There are many myths about sexual assault that are both commonly accepted and continuously perpetuated in today’s society. These myths and beliefs place blame on victims while minimizing the responsibility of the offender and the seriousness of the crime. As a result, victims of sexual assault are often left feeling isolated and ashamed without the support they need to begin to heal.
MYTH VS. FACT
Sexual assault is provoked by the victim’s actions, behaviors, or by the way they dress.
Sexual assault is NEVER the victim’s fault. Sexual assault is a violent attack on an individual, not a spontaneous crime of sexual passion. For a victim, it is a humiliating and degrading act. No one “asks for” or deserves this type of attack.
Sexual assaults only occur in dark alleys and isolated areas.
A sexual assault can happen anywhere and at any time. The majority of assaults occur in places ordinarily thought to be safe, such as homes, cars and offices.
Sexual assault results from an uncontrollable impulsive sexual urge.
Sexual assault is motivated by hostility, power and control. Sexual assaults are not motivated by sexual desire. Humans are capable of controlling how they choose to act on or express sexual urges.
People who commit sexual assaults are obviously creepy, abnormal perverts, or people who could be easily identified and avoided.
Sexual offenders are “ordinary” and “normal” individuals who come from all educational, occupational, racial, and cultural backgrounds. You cannot pick a sex offender out of a crowd. This myth exemplifies our cultural tendency to blame victims – it is not the case that victims are assaulted because they failed to spot an obvious perpetrator.
Men cannot be victims of sexual violence.
Men can be and are victims of sexual violence. Approximately one in six men will be victims of sexual violence at some point in their lifetime. Being a victim of sexual violence does not make a man less “manly” and does not have implications for his sexual orientation.
Women cannot be sex offenders.
An overwhelming majority of sex offenders are male, but it is possible for women to be perpetrators of rape and sexual violence, even against men.