Sexual assault myths are beliefs held within our society that place blame on survivors and justify the actions of perpetrators.
These beliefs affect everyone and impact the way sexual violence and survivors are perceived and treated. Sexual violence myths are related to sex role stereotypes that portray women as passive and sexually available and men as aggressive and sexually uncontrollable.
The myths are also related to oppressive belief systems, including homophobia, racism and sexism, which maintain that certain individuals or groups of individuals are "inferior" and other groups have the right to take what they want.
You know what these myths are. Let's talk about the facts.
Sexual Assault Facts
- Fact: The natural consequence of drinking is getting drunk—not being sexually assaulted. If someone is drinking or using other drugs, they may not be capable of giving their consent. However, the offender is responsible for his/her behavior regardless of level of intoxication.
- Fact: If the person did not give their active, conscious consent (saying “yes” without coercion) it is sexual assault, period. Not saying “no” or not fighting back does not equal consent.
- Fact: The vast majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone the survivor knows. In 8 out of 10 rape cases, the survivor knew the perpetrator (Tjaden and Thoennes 2000).
- Fact: Current statistics indicate that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 college women will experience sexual assault at some point before they graduate from college (Koss, 1984; Fisher, Cullen & Turner 2000).
- Fact: Of all crimes, sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes. According to The National Women’s Study, 84 percent of women did not report their unwanted sexual experience to police (Kilpatrick, Edmunds, and Seymour 1992). Furthermore, the false reporting rate is about 2 to 3 percent, which is no different than for other crimes.
- Fact: “No” always means “no.” Silence also means “no.”
Sexual consent is based on mutually clear words or actions (a true and mutual understanding of what is to be done, where, with whom, and in what way) and is the responsibility of the initiator of the act.