Sexual assault is something people don’t like talking about. It’s not a fun or nice topic. But the fact is that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives and 1 in 2 transgendered individuals will be sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives. This needs to be talked about.
When the topic does come up, however, people have their opinion. There are reasons or excuses for sexual assault that are said and they become truths, when in reality, they are far from the truth. So, I’m going tackle six myths about sexual assault to help clear some things up.
1. Rape is a crime of passion.
People sometimes say that the perpetrator cannot control their sexual urge and that’s how rape happens. The perpetrator just got caught up in the moment and decided to force a person to have sex with them. This is not true. Rape is a crime of control, power, and violence. Rape is not about sex or passion, whatsoever. A lot people have sexual desires and a lot of them do not commit sexual assault.
2. A spouse cannot rape their partner.
A lot of people think rape can’t happen in marriage. They think since a couple is married, everything is consensual. This is not true. Sexual assault can still happen in marriage. Any unwanted sexual attention or touch is sexual assault whether or not they are married. Even in marriage, there has to be consent.
3. If they don’t fight back, it isn’t rape.
I have personally heard this statement said in various discussions about sexual assault. People think that if there isn’t an audible “no” or “fight,” then it is not considered assault. People react to trauma differently. Some people do fight back, some try and run away, but there are others who freeze up as an act of defense. Either way, if there wasn’t clear consent, it’s sexual assault. Also: this does not mean the victim is weak, lying, or “being dramatic.”
4. You can tell a rapist by how they look.
51.1% of female victims report being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% report being raped by an acquaintance. In 8 out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator. With just these statistics, I feel if we knew who was a rapist just by looking at them, we probably wouldn’t engage in a relationship with them. Rapists don’t walk around with signs on their head, yelling “I’m a rapist!”
5. Men can’t be raped.
People think sexual assault is only a crime against women. While the overwhelming majority of cases have female victims, men are and can be sexually assaulted. From my statistic in the beginning, 1 in 71 men will be raped in their lives. One of the biggest examples of this is Shia LaBeouf. During is silent performance piece, #IAMSORRY, LaBeouf stated a women entered the room where he was, stripped his clothes, proceeded to rape him and then left.
6. Women often make false reports.
This one gets me every time. The statistics say that only about 2-8% of rape and sexual assault reports are false. This means that the other 92-98% of rape reports did happen. We need to stop assuming the victim is lying. We need to stop questioning the victim to make them prove they were raped rather than questioning the perpetrator to make them prove their innocence.
So there you have it. The most common myths of sexual assault debunked. I hope we can dismantle these commonly held myths so victims report more, rapists are caught and convicted, and that victims are no longer blamed.