Sexual Violence Education and Resources

Myths About Sexual Assault

Myth: Rape happens only to certain types of women.
Any person of any age, race, class, religion, occupation, physical ability, sexual identity, or appearance can be raped.
Myth: Most assaults occur as spontaneous acts in dark alleys.
Close to 80% of all sexual assaults are committed by acquaintances. This can range from someone known to the survivor only by sight, to individuals with whom they are very close: a best friend, a lover, or husband. Even adolescent or adult male survivors are primarily assaulted by acquaintances—usually other men, but sometimes women as well.
Myth: Most sexual assaults are interracial.
The overwhelming majority—90%—of sexual assaults involve people of the same race. One cannot assume that a person is potentially dangerous or trustworthy based solely on his/her race or appearance. Instead, an individual should judge potential hazards based on a person's behavior, and trust their instincts in all cases.
Myth: Women give mixed messages because they don't want to admit that they really want to have sex. They just need to be convinced, to relax and enjoy themselves.
Rape is a crime for which the perpetrator has responsibility. By understanding that rape is rape, regardless of the relationship between the parties, and regardless of the behavior of the survivor, the focus will stay on the perpetrator's behavior, not the victim's.
Myth: A rapist is easy to spot in a crowd.
There is nothing about rapists' appearances that distinguishes them from others. Rapists come from all races, ethnic or socioeconomic groups. They can be large, small, able-bodied, or disabled, married or single.
Myth: Men can't be sexually assaulted.
Somewhere between one in six and one in ten males are sexually assaulted. As with female survivors, male survivors can be supported best by talking about the issue in an inclusive way, avoiding the presumption that all survivors are female, and assuming that all male victims are gay.
Myth: Women lie about rape as an act of revenge or guilt.
A judge of the New York State Supreme Court has said, “False rape charges are not frequently made; only about 2% of all rape and related sex charges are determined to be false—the same as other felonies.” FBI statistics support this as well.