Myths & Facts

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Countless myths exist about sexual assault. These myths often shift responsibility and blame from the rapist to the victim. Understanding the myths surrounding sexual assault may help victims in their recovery and help friends/family best support them. What happened to you was a crime. A victim is not to blame for the rapist’s behavior.

Myth 1: Rape is caused by the rapist’s uncontrollable sexual urge.
Fact 1: Rape is an act of power and control, not sex.

Myth 2: Rapists are mentally ill or psychotic, and cannot help themselves.
Fact 2: Very few rapists are mentally incompetent and/or out of touch with reality. Rapes are often planned and carried out by acquaintances, intimate partners, family members or strangers

Myth 3: The victim must have “asked for it” by being seductive, careless, drunk, high, etc.
Fact 3: No one asks to be abused, injured, or humiliated. This line of thought blames the victim for what happened instead of the perpetrator who chose to commit the crime. Individuals of all ages, from all walks of life, have been the targets of sexual assault. Not one of them “caused” their assailant to commit a crime against them.

Myth 4: If the victim did not physically struggle with or fight the assailant, it wasn’t really rape.
Fact 4: Assailants are not looking for a fight and they use many forms of coercion, threats and manipulation. Alcohol and other drugs such as Rohypnol are often used to incapacitate victims.

Michigan law defines sexual assault by the action of the perpetrator not the victim. In fact, there is a specific law that says that the victim need not have resisted the perpetrator in order for the incident to be considered rape.

Myth 5: Most rapists are strangers to their victims.
Fact 5: Most rapes are committed by someone that the victim knows: a neighbor, friend, acquaintance, co-worker, classmate, spouse, partner, or ex-partner.

Myth 6: Serial rapists are uncommon.
Fact 6: Almost every rapist is a serial rapist, meaning that they repeatedly choose to use coercion, violence, threats of force, manipulation, etc. to assault victims.

Myth 7: A woman can’t rape another woman. A man can’t be raped.
Fact 7: By most estimates, 5% to 10% of sexual assaults committed in the United States involve male victims. Also, 30% of lesbians report having experienced sexual assault or rape by another woman and 15% of gay men report being raped or sexually assaulted by a male cohabitant. However, incidents of sexual violence in US are severely underreported, especially among male victims.