Many pervasive myths about sexual assault and and controlling or abusive relationships exist in society. Some are listed below.
Hopefully, they will clarify your understanding about these very real issues and help you to educate others. Education and awareness is important towards prevention.
Defining Sexual AssaultSexual assault is any unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature that occurs without consent from both individuals or under threat or coercion.
Whether by an acquaintance or by a stranger, sexual assault can occur either forcibly and/or against a person's will, or when a person in incapable of giving consent.
By law, sexual assault includes but is not limited to rape, forcible sodomy, forcible oral copulation, sexual assault with an object, sexual battery, forcible fondling (e.g., unwanted touching or kissing for purposes of sexual gratification), or threat of sexual assault.
A person is legally incapable of giving consent if under 18 years of age, intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol, developmentally disabled, or mentally or physically unable to do so.
Common Myths Concerning Sexual Assault
Both men and women can be sexually assaulted or raped, and assailants can be male or female with any sexual orientation.
Sexual assault survivors are never responsible for the attack, no matter what, no matter how much alcohol was consumed.
Responsiblity lies with the perpetrator. The survivor is never responsible for the assailant's behavior. Alcohol may increase the risk of sexual assault and may make someone incapable of giving consent or protecting themselves, but it is not the cause of the assault.
Unwanted sexual activity in any relationship qualifies as sexual assault.
It is estimated that 80-85% of rapists are known to the adult they attack. "Acquantaince rape" by a friend, new acquaintance, or a coworker is frequent, particularly among young, single women.
Statistics show that 50% of sexual assaults occur in or around a woman's home, 50% during the day.
Nearly all rapes are truthfully reported. In fact, rapes are vastly underreported.
Actually, rape has to do with interpersonal violence and power.
Most assailants have no history of mental disorder.
Men and women of all races, ethnicities, ages, economic and social classes, and sexual orientations are represented among assailants.
People of all ages are at risk, and one in four women will be assaulted in the course of her lifetime.
Threats of violence are a weapon, and a woman may not resist vigorously for fear of injury or death.
Common Myths Concerning Violence in Relationships
Studies estimate that one in three teens are in an abusive relationship.
Battering involves the establishment of fear and control in a relationship through violence and other forms of abuse and manipulation. Its manifestation through violence is a physical example of already occurring abuse.
Men can be abused by their girlfriends, wives, lovers, and partners, but are often unwilling to seek help because admitting abuse runs contrary to the "macho" image that men are encouraged to maintain.
People of all cultures, races, income levels, and ages are abused.
Anyone can find themselves in an abusive and controlling relationship, no matter your gender, how intelligent or worldly you are, or if you are strong and independent.
Prevention & Safety TipsRespect your body. Respect your health. Respect your beliefs and your boundaries.
Educate yourself about the realities of sexual assault. Knowledge can be a powerful tool in abuse prevention.
Argue against dangerous gender roles and stereotypes that can lead to and perpetrate sexual violence.
Believe in your right to make choices and decisions about your body and to have those decisions respected.
Trust your instincts. Pay attention and listen to your "inner voice" that tells you when something is wrong and feels unsafe.
Communicate physical and sexual boundaries clearly and assertively. Your body belongs to you. You never lose the right to say "no" and can withdraw your consent in a sexual situation at any time.
Be cautious when choosing to use alcohol or drugs, as they can increase the risk of sexual violence (although never the cause). Alcohol and drugs can affect judgment, impair the flight-or-fight response, and impede clear communication.
Get involved and participate in the movement against sexual violence on college campuses.
Know that sexual assault is never the victim's fault, regardless of the situation.