In a modern, civilized society, it is frightening how common sexual assault and abuse are. In fact, in the United States alone, nearly 300,000 rapes and sexual assaults are reported each year. Despite how unfortunate and common this type of crime is, there are plenty of myths about sexual assault and abuse. Allow us to help set the record straight so you can better understand this important issue.
Myth #1 – Victims Often Lie About Sexual Abuse
This is one of the most common misconceptions. Some people wrongly believe that those accusing others of sexual assault or abuse are merely attention-seeking or looking to make themselves feel better after what could have been perceived as a poor decision. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Evidence actually shows far less false reports are reported than for any other crime, resulting in a false rate of about 2 to 8 percent. What this means is that a vast majority of victims can and should be trusted when they say they have experienced sexual assault or abuse.
Myth #2 – Sexual Assaults Typically Occur in Public or Unfamiliar Places
While it may be easy to assume that many victims were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, sexual abuse data actually shows a very different trend. More than half of sexual assault cases occur in or near the victim’s home or that of a friend or loved one. It is true that some sexual assaults are committed in unfamiliar environments. However, nearly three-quarters occur closer to home, which leads us into our next myth.
Myth #3 – Sexual Abuse Is Typically Committed by Strangers
This is another fallacy that is easy to believe. When thinking about sexual assault, many people imagine being attacked by a stranger in a dark alley. However, the reality is actually even more sinister. In addition to typically taking place near the victim’s home or other familiar areas, most cases are also committed by someone the victim knows. In many cases, it can be a potential romantic partner, a longtime friend, or even a family member. For cases involving sexual abuse of children, the perpetrator is nearly always someone the child knows well, within or outside of their family.
Myth #4 – Those in Committed Relationships Can’t Be Sexually Assaulted
This is one of the most insidious myths regarding sexual abuse. Thus, this can be one main reason some victims feel uncomfortable reporting possible cases. The truth of the matter is that anyone can be the victim of sexual assault. This is true even if they are married or in a serious relationship with their assailant. A long-term, committed relationship does not give a romantic partner free rein to do whatever they want. You always have the option to say no to sexual advances, even if they come from your spouse. Your partner should always respect your wishes with regards to sexual activity, no matter how long you have been together.
Myth #5 – Sexual Assault Is a Compulsive Act of Passion
While sexual gratification can occasionally be a motivator in committing rape or other types of sexual abuse, it is generally not the primary motivator. More often than not, sexual assault is about exerting power and control over the victim. Oftentimes, the act is planned or considered long before it ever occurs, rather than taking place in the heat of the moment. This makes it even more difficult to predict and prevent these types of cases. This is because the victim has typically built a relationship with their assailant.
Get Help with Sexual Abuse Cases
If you have been the victim of sexual abuse, assault, or rape, the most important thing to remember is that it is not your fault. You did not “ask for it” by the way you dressed or behaved. Furthermore, your attacker will not be able to use that as an argument against you. It is always up to you whether you wish to participate in sexual activities. Anyone who does not respect your wishes can and should be prosecuted for their harmful actions.