Shattering Sexual Assault Myths
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Shattering Sexual Assault Myths

Let's get some facts straight. Sexual assault myths play a big role in rape culture. Sexual assault myths perpetuate the toxicity and stigma surrounding sexual assault victimization. Thanks to the pervasiveness of these myths in our culture, some victims may not even believe they are victims of sexual assault. Unfortunately, these myths contribute to an unhealthy cycle of victim-blaming and a spread of misinformation that places people at risk. So let's smash some myths.

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Shattering Sexual Assault Myths
Ideal Outcomes

*TRIGGER WARNING*: This article discusses sexual assault and may be distressing to some readers. Proceed with self-care. If you are a survivor and ever need someone to talk to, my inbox is always open- please feel free to message me on Twitter (username on my profile) or on my other social media. I support you.

Rape is rare

iStock

How I wish this statement was true. Sadly, rape happens way more often than any of us would like to think. Think of all the women you know. Now think of only six that you are closest to. Of these six women you know and love, one of these six women has been or will be the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault in her lifetime. Let that sink in. But rape does not just affect women- one in every ten rape victims is a man. So statistically speaking, someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault.

Only young women get raped

Melissa Agnes

Rape affects people of every gender, every sexual orientation, every race, and every age. The only thing all rape victims have in common is that a rapist perceived them to be vulnerable and took advantage of them. While young women tend to be raped more often than victims of other ages, infants have been raped, as well as elderly women. Rape is not about sex appeal- it's about a selfish person seeking power and control over another.

Most rape allegations are false

Adobe Stock

This myth is actually pretty common. In this case, the reality cannot be farther from the myth; the FBI estimates that only around 2-8% of reports of sexual assault are false. It makes sense- why would someone go through the emotional ordeal of a police investigation, an invasive hospital examination, and the justice system all for nothing? Imagine having to painstakingly tell police officers, detectives, medical personnel, lawyers, and an entire courtroom every single detail of your assault- and then having to deal with people not believing you, calling you attention-seeking, blaming you, and facing the stigma surrounding sexual assault. It is extremely challenging and draining for most people to endure, so it is no wonder why rape is historically one of the most underreported crimes of all. For some survivors, such as male victims, LGBTQ victims, victims whose offenders are famous, popular, or well-respected individuals, the stigma and embarrassment surrounding the process of coming forward is even more magnified. Needless to say, this myth also contributes to rape culture, because when we do not believe victims or we discount their experiences, we are by proxy, protecting and encouraging current and future rapists. For all victims, we need to create a warm, compassionate, and safe environment- where we support those who come forward as well as the silent survivors among us

Most rape victims are asking for it

Shutterstock

Nobody asks for it. This is the most disgusting and toxic myth of them all, and the biggest contributor to rape culture. No one ever is asking for rape- if they were it would be called consensual sex. I remember as a child, coming home from Orlando I would always see a big billboard that simply said "rape is sex without consent". Consent is given enthusiastically, voluntarily, and without coercion. No matter how drunk someone is, what he or she is wearing, or how he or she is behaving, nobody ever asks for a violation like that. Rape is derived from the Latin concept of rapere, which means to take with force. With today's legal definition, force does not mean just physical; psychological coercion and manipulation count as force. If you have to take something from someone, that person is NOT asking for it.

Rape is always violent

FCPA Professor

While rape is inherently violent in nature, it does not always result in visible signs of injury. The psychological and emotional wounds run far deeper. Despite the popular belief that the typical sexual assault is where a stranger jumps out from the bushes and brutally attacks a woman, this is rarely the case. Almost always, the rapist is known to the victim. Sometimes the rapist has a weapon and the threat of violence is sufficient to control the victim. Other times, the rapist takes advantage of a person who can't fight back, such as someone very young, very old, intoxicated, asleep, or unconscious. In some cases, the rapist uses psychological manipulation to coerce the victim into giving "consent", even if they are not doing so willingly or enthusiastically. Remember, just because a survivor is seemingly physically unscathed, it does not mean their experience is any less relevant, painful, or important. Every survivor, regardless of the details of their assault, needs to be supported with compassion and understanding.

All statistics are from RAINN. If you are interested in learning more about sexual violence, please visit the following websites:

www.rainn.org

www.1in6.org

www.joyfulheartfoundation.org

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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