29 Myths and Counting: Debunked

Myth: Sexual assault occurs as a result of sexual urges.
Debunked: Sexual assault occurs as a power mechanism, meant as an act of control or aggression.

Myth: You can easily point out a rapist when you see one.
Debunked: There is no stereotypical outline for how a rapist looks, despite what media portrays. They usually blend in and appear and act as a relatively “normal” human.

Myth: Most sexual assaults are committed by strangers.
Debunked: Most sexual assaults are perpetrated by people they know and whom they feel safe with.

Myth: Sexual assaults really only happen in isolated areas.
Debunked: Sexual assaults can occur anywhere. Not only do they happen in places we identify as dangerous like dark streets and alleys, but at work, school, in vehicles, and in public areas.

Myth: Sexual assault only happens at night.
Debunked: Sexual assaults can happen at any time of the day, even in broad daylight when you least expect it.

Myth: If you’ve been a victim, it will and should show.
Debunked: Everyone handles things differently. There is no correct way to react to a situation like this. Try not to feel like you’re overreacting or under-reacting.

Myth: Victims will be visibly physically harmed.
Debunked: Often, the threat of violence causes women to submit to the assailant to remain safe, and that’s okay.

Myth: If I fight back, they’ll only become more violent.
Debunked: Sexual assaulter’s pick their victims based on their perceived ability to overcome them, often testing the person prior to the assault. Verbal and physical resistance can lessen the severity in some instances; however, only the person in the situation can truly gage the appropriate response in the situation. Try not to feel like you deserved it if you didn’t fight back because that isn’t always in your best interest.

Myth: Women lie about rape as an act of revenge or guilt.
Debunked: False claims only comprise about 2% of all sexual assault charges; no more than other felonies.

Myth: The sooner you report, the better.
Debunked: No one can decide what is right for you except you. Reporting when you’re most comfortable is the ideal time to report.

Myth: Men can’t be sexually assaulted, especially by women.
Debunked: Men can be and are sexually assaulted by men and women. Typically, the victims were assaulted during adolescence, but adult men can be assaulted as well regardless of appearance or physical ability.

Myth: Only gay men are sexually assaulted.
Debunked: Regardless of your sexual orientation, all men are equally likely to be sexually assaulted.

Myth: Only gay men sexually assault other men.
Debunked: Most men who sexually assault other men identify as heterosexual; this reinforces the fact that it isn’t about sexual attraction, but anger and control.

Myth: Arousal from sexual assault means that you really wanted it and gave consent.
Debunked: Certain reactions that imply that one is aroused are often results of physical contact or extreme stress, or both. That doesn’t mean you wanted or enjoyed the assault, it doesn’t affect your sexual orientation, and most importantly, it doesn’t make it any less of a sexual assault.

Myth: Sexual assault is often a misunderstanding, especially on campus.
Debunked: Assailants use the misconceptions that “drunk girls are somewhat asking for it” and that “if both people were drunk it wasn’t rape” to try (and sometimes succeed) getting away with it. The reality is that men and women alike understand social cues, and 90% of campus rapists are repeat offenders and target victims with the hopes that they can use these misconceptions in their favor.

Myth: It’s not rape if it wasn’t violently forced or if it wasn’t genital penetration.
Debunked: Rape can occur with objects, and isn’t always physically forced. You don’t have to fight back or yell out for it to be rape. Simply not consenting or being coerced to say “yes” can constitute sexual assault.

Myth: Anyone in any condition can give consent.
Debunked: Minors, intoxicated people, and mentally incapacitated people can not give consent.

Myth: Dressing provocatively and flirting means you put yourself at risk and you knew it.
Debunked: People rape people, not clothing. Additionally, flirting doesn’t mean consenting, even if you kissed or invited them into your home.

Myth: Sometimes, it’s too late to say no, or you can’t change your mind.
Debunked: Consent isn’t a legally binding contract; you can say yes and change your mind, even if sexual activities have already begun. If they do not stop when you tell them, it is rape.

Myth: If you fantasize about rape, you want to be raped.
Debunked: Fantasies help us explore our fears and allow us to know we are safe while experiencing that fear.

Myth: Sexual assault doesn’t happen very often on campus.
Debunked: 1 in 5 college-aged women are sexually assaulted, and that’s only what is reported. Fewer than 1 in  20 assaults are actually reported.

Myth: Campus rapists are always expelled.
Debunked: Colleges can be secretive about their data, but one survey suggests that 10-25% of those found responsible for sexual assault are expelled. This only includes those found responsible, as many more never face consequences.

Myth: Most rapists don’t go to jail anyway, it doesn’t make sense to report.
Debunked: While it is true that only 3% of rapists are incarcerated, it can still be helpful to you and other women if you report.

Myth: The most common date rape drugs are roofies.
Debunked: Alcohol is used as the most common date rape drug; this fact is used to justify the false misconception that “drunk people get themselves raped” instead of addressing the fact that people are raping drunk people.

Myth: If the victim’s story isn’t consistent, it can’t be true.
Debunked: Someone who experiences trauma can have disconnected fragments of memory, and the likelihood of this increases if the person was drugged or intoxicated.

Myth: If you know someone who was assaulted, you should make them go to the police.
Debunked: Allow the person to do what is best for them. Victims have no obligation to anyone except themselves to survive and heal. Let them remain in charge of their own body and agency; they’ve been through enough.

Myth: You can’t be raped by a partner or spouse.
Debunked: You are the only one who can decide if you want certain things, and being in a relationship does not give anyone power over that. No means no, even if you’re in a documented relationship.

Myth: Rape can be prevented.
Debunked: There is absolutely no way to completely prevent and eliminate rape; all one can do is take risk reducing precautions, which you can find in our “Tips For Staying Safe” section.