Misconceptions, Realities & Productive Thinking

1. Rape occurs in a dark alley by a stranger.

Reality
Most sexual assault survivors know the perpetrator. About 70% of female rape or sexual assault survivors state the offender was an intimate partner, other relative, friend or acquaintance (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2005). This includes classmates, coworkers, dates, neighbors, caretakers, family members, husbands and boyfriends.

Productive Thinking
“In addition to being aware of strangers, I must recognize that people I know may pose a threat to me. With prevention education, I can watch for signs that may place me at risk.”

 

2. Rape is just ‘rough’ or ‘bad’ sex. What’s the big deal?

Reality

Almost half of all survivors of rape are fearful of serious injury or death during the rape. Rape is a violent assault that is acted out sexually which affects an individual’s sense of safety and control. Rape survivors are nine times more likely than victims of other crimes to attempt suicide.

Productive Thinking
“Even though rape is acted out sexually, I must remember that it is a violation and is about power and control. It has potentially life changing effects and should be taken seriously.”

 

3. Women ask to be raped because of the way they dress or act.

Reality

This attitude holds survivors of sexual assault accountable for the violence perpetrated against them. No one asks or deserves to be raped. Rape does not happen in response to provocative clothing or behavior. Rape happens because the perpetrator decides that his desires are more important than the victim’s right to self determination. A life free from sexual violence is a basic human right that should be accorded to all members of our society.

Productive Thinking
“Dressing in attractive ways or indicating to someone that you like them is not an invitation to be sexually violated.”

 

4. It’s okay for a man to force a woman to have sex with him if she gets him turned on.

Reality
This attitude suggests that men are not capable of controlling their sexual behavior. It further suggests that women must ultimately bear the responsibility for men’s violent behavior. This is simply not true; people are able to control themselves when they choose to do so. If a person chooses to act out violently against another, that person must be held accountable.

Productive Thinking
“If I engage in sexual intimacy, I cannot force or coerce my partner into doing anything, and I must take responsibility for my own actions. If I chose not to participate, my partner’s sexual urges are not my responsibility.”

 

5. Women only cry rape to get back at men they are mad at or because they don’t want to admit having sex.

Reality

False rape charges are not frequently made. According to the Department of Justice, one in every 2.7 million heterosexual males will have a false claim made against them.

Productive Thinking
“Because of the way society treats rape victims, most people would not put themselves in a position to be ridiculed, demeaned, and subject to public scrutiny if it were not true.”

 

6. Men can never be sexually assaulted.

Reality

Men can be and are sexually assaulted. One in six men have experienced sexual violence before the age of 18.

Productive Thinking
“Anyone can be sexually assaulted. Women and men from the very young to the elderly, people of all ethnicities, socioeconomic levels and all sexual orientations are sexually assaulted.”