5 Common Myths About Sexual Assault & Violence

There are dozens of myths and misconceptions surrounding sexual assault and violence, but what are the facts? While there are countless people who are innocent sitting behind bars today for crimes they did not commit in every state in the U.S., the fact is sexual assault DOES happen – and much more often than you might think, as many victims do not report rape or other sex crimes. Below we’ve included five of the most common myths about sexual violence, along with the facts. 673264_hammer_to_fall

Myth #1 – Victims often “ask” to be raped or sexually assaulted by wearing revealing or promiscuous clothing or acting in a manner that may come across as inviting. The truth is, it makes absolutely no difference what a person is wearing (or not wearing) or how that person acts. Sexual assault and rape are threatening, forceful, and even violent crimes that can result in injury. Regardless of how a person is dressed, the act of forcing a person to engage in intercourse or any type of sexual activity without that person’s consent constitutes sexual assault.

Myth #2 – The majority of rapes or sexual assaults are committed by strangers; if the victim and perpetrator know each other, it isn’t a crime. This is a common misconception, and in fact most victims of rape or sexual assault are attacked by someone they know. In fact, in victims ages 18 to 29, about 65% who were raped or sexually assaulted had been in a relationship with the offender prior to the sexual violence.

Myth #3 – Individuals who commit sex crimes are perverts or mentally ill. In this case, some offenders may have an addiction/behavioral problem, however the majority of people who commit sexual assaults are normal, ordinary people from all walks of life. Whether a politician, doctor, factory worker, or even attorney, those who commit sexual assault are not typically perverts but commit these crimes to humiliate, inflict violence, degrade, and use their “power” or control over the victim.

Myth #4 – Every victim should report being raped to police or law enforcement; there is no reason not to report this sex crime. While you probably aren’t aware of the fact, across the U.S. the violent crime of rape is the least reported, which means offenders go unconvicted because charges were never filed. There are countless reasons why victims of rape choose to keep the attack to themselves and not report the incident to law enforcement, or tell anyone including friends or family members. Some of these reasons include:

  • Victims fear they will be blamed
  • Worry that law enforcement or others won’t believe them
  • Shame and/or embarrassment
  • Victim fears the offender will “get back” at him or her
  • In cases where the victim knows the attacker, there is often a desire to protect that person
  • Fear that the evidence is lacking
  • Distrust of police/law enforcement

Myth #5 – If the victim is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it isn’t sexual assault. Many people believe that when someone goes to a party or bar and takes drugs or drinks alcohol, engaging in sexual activity is just part of the plan – an invitation of sorts. This is completely false. Someone who drinks or takes drugs does not invite one or more people to assault him or her, or cause the assault. A potential offender may see an opportunity to take advantage of a person who is in a vulnerable position after consuming alcohol or drugs.

That said, there are people who get drunk or high and engage in behavior (including sexual activity) they normally would not engage in. After the fact, some may not remember the incident and erroneously come to the conclusion that he/she was raped or sexually assaulted. In this situation, sometimes innocent people are wrongly accused of sexual assault or rape.

There are many myths regarding sexual assault and violence. Anyone who is accused of a sex crime should consult with an experienced Michigan sex crimes attorney immediately.

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