Myths and Facts
Myth #1: Rape is a sexual act, a crime of passion and lust.
Fact: Rape is a violent crime committed in a sexual manner. It is the sexual release of anger or control or power to inflict violence and humiliation on the victim.
Myth #2: Rape is provoked by the victim; women who are raped are asking for it.
Fact: No one asks to be sexually assaulted. Nor does anyone's behavior justify or excuse the crime. People have the right to be safe from a sexual violation at any time, any place, and under any circumstances. This myth takes away the criminal blame from the rapist and shifts the responsibility for the crime to the victim.
Myth #3: "It can’t happen to me". Rape is an isolated, infrequent act that only happens to certain kinds of people: attractive, young women or women who are promiscuous or provocative.
Fact: Anyone can be sexually assaulted. Victims include infants to people in their nineties, women and men, single and married people, lesbians/gays, people with disabilities, and people from every racial, ethnic, religious, or social background. Although the reported number of assaults is higher in urban areas, sexual assault happens in every area — the city, suburbs, small towns, and rural areas.
Myth #4: Rape is a rare occurrence.
Fact: Statistics show that there is a rape every six minutes in the United States and that one in four women will be a victim of sexual assault. Rape is one of the fastest growing and most underreported crimes in the nation according to FBI crime statistics.
Myth #5: The majority of sexual assaults are committed by strangers at night in dark alleys and isolated places.
Fact: Between 75 and 80% of victims know their attackers, if only slightly, and 35% of sexual assaults occur within the family. It is estimated that incest occurs in 14% of families. Over 50% of sexual assaults occur in the home. As many assaults occur during the daytime as at night.
Myth #6: People can easily avoid situations that can lead to rape. If a person is raped, there is a "right way" to respond during the situation.
Fact: Most rape victims were in an environment they considered safe and were raped by someone they thought they could trust. Since rape is life-threatening and each rapist is different, the best thing for a victim to do is to follow her/his instincts and observe any cues from the rapist. Survival is the goal.
Myth #7: You cannot be assaulted against your will.
Fact: Assailants overpower their victims with the threat of violence or with actual violence. Especially in cases of acquaintance rape or incest, an assailant often uses the victim’s trust to isolate her or him.
Myth #8: Sexual assault does not happen to men; if men are raped, it is homosexual rape.
Fact: Same sex assault is a frequent and serious crime. It can and does happen to men. 96% of rapists are heterosexual and only 4% of same sex assaults are homosexual assaults. The frequency of male sexual assault is difficult to estimate because of our reluctance to recognize the crime and the victim's reluctance to report. In our society, men are expected to be in control, powerful, strong, and never afraid.
Myth #9: Rape is an impulsive, uncontrollable act of sexual gratification. Most rapes are spontaneous.
Fact: 75% of all rapes are planned in advance. When three or more assailants are involved, 90% are planned. If two assailants are involved, 83% are planned. With one assailant, 58% are planned.
Myth #10: Rape does not occur in marriage.
Fact: Regardless of marital or social relationship, if a woman does not consent to sexual activity, she is being sexually assaulted. In reality, approximately 14% of women are victims of rape committed by their husband. Most states have laws prohibiting rape in marriage.
Myth #11: Women frequently cry "rape." There is a high rate of false reporting.
Fact: Studies show that only 2-4% of rape reports are false, which is no higher than in the reporting of other violent felonies.
Myth #12: Rapists are abnormal perverts or men with an unsatisfied sex drive. Only "sick" or "insane" men rape women.
Fact: Rapists have normal sex drives, are generally sexually active (married or have available sex partners), and exhibit "normal" types of behavior, with the exception of a greater than average tendency to be aggressive or violent. Rapists equate manhood with being in control, being aggressive, and carrying out sexual acts. Rape is a way to punish and degrade their victims and the sense of power, discharge or anger, and aggression often are more important than any sexual gratification.