March 7, 2011
Myths are attitudes and beliefs that are prejudicial, stereotyped, and false, but are widely accepted. Many rape myths exist, but they tend to fall into three categories:
• Blaming the victim
• Excusing the perpetrator
• Justifying the rape
Myth #1: The motivating force behind sexual assault is sexual desire.
Fact: Rape has nothing to do with sexual attraction. It is about power and control, humiliation, and degradation. Sexual violence is the avenue used to achieve these goals. One of the oldest victims at the YWCA was a 90-year-old woman and the youngest victim was a 6-month-old baby. The common characteristic between these two victims is vulnerability, Rapists target people they view as vulnerable. Both males and females can be rape victims.
Myth #2: Sexual assaults are perpetrated mostly by strangers outside at night (i.e. parking lot, back alley, behind bushes, or deserted area).
Fact: This is the stereotype of rape and does not describe the typical rape. In 86% of all rapes, the victim knows the offender. A perpetrator can be a boyfriend (57% of all rapes occur in the context of a date), a friend, relative, neighbor, or other acquaintance. Almost half of all rapes (42%) occur in the victim’s own home.
Myth #3: Physioal violence is always involved with a sexual assault. The victim will have bruises on their body if they were really assaulted.
Fact: Most rapes do not involve a high level of physical violence. Psychological strategies (i.e. intimidation, emotional blackmail, pressuring, threats, bribery, lying, and/or manipulation) are the most common techniques used by perpetrators. Most perpetrators will not utilize physical force until psychological strategies have failed. Most victims do not walk away with bruises, cuts, or torn clothing. Victims often do not look “battered.”
Myth #4: During a sexual encounter, a person can become carried away and unable to control his or her actions. Rapists cannot stop themselves once they become aroused.
Fact: Yes, men are capable of stopping. They CAN STOP if they care about or respect the other person.
Myth #5: You can tell simply from another person’s actions or way of dressing that she or he wants to have sex with you.
Fact: You can never assume what someone wants according to his/her appearance. It is an insult to assume that men have no self-control. An attractive person does not compel someone to ‘attack’ him/her. They may be attracted to someone but that does not mean they have to act on it.
Myth #6: Some people ask to be raped or sexually assaulted and are at fault for whatever happens.
Fact: People may make poor judgments but no one ever DESERVES to be a victim of sexual assault. Rape has nothing to do with circumstances or the victim’s reputation and/or appearance.
Myth #7: Women make up accusations of rape against men to get revenge.
Fact: False reporting is less than 2% (no different from other crimes). Rape is tremendously underreported.
Myth #8: Rapists are severely disturbed men.
Fact: Perpetrators may test higher on aggression and their tendency to use violence. Generally, rapists test “normal” on psychological testing.
- Rape Myths Persist: Reactions to the Assault on Lara Logan (northernbarbarians.wordpress.com)