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Myths and Facts

Myth: Sexual violence is caused by the perpetrator's uncontrollable passion and sexual urges.
Fact: Sexual violence involves a range of behavior that is used for power and control over another person or people. Sex is used as a weapon. 
Myth: Strangers commit the majority of sexual assaults.
Fact: Approximately 90% of college students know the person who hurt them.
Myth: Perpetrators of sexual assault are easy to spot and are typically mentally ill.
Fact: The majority of assaults are committed by someone the survivor knows. They can be a classmate, co-worker, a friend, an intimate partner, and are not easily identifiable.
Myth: False rape accusations are very common. Wo/men "cry rape" when they regret sex.
Fact: The rate of unfounded reports is low and is estimated to be around 2-4$. This myth decreases the likelihood that someone will report, as s/he worries about being disbelieved.
Myth: People are responsible for sexual violence committed against them because they dressed provocatively, went out alone, got drunk, etc. Victims of sexual violence are often "asking for it."

Fact: Sexual violence can happen to anyone in myriad situations and settings.

One's behavior, choices or manner of dress is never a justification for the violent actions of others.

The Law & Order Myth: Real survivors of sexual violence will always be frantic, panic stricken, and out of control.

Fact: Survivors exhibit a wide range of emotional responses (some of which may not always match with what observers expect: calm, hysteria, laughter, anger, apathy, shock, etc. Each survivor copes with the trauma of the assault in her/his own way.

Myth: Most sexual assaults are caused by miscommunication and misunderstandings between partners.

Fact: While communication is an important component of healthy relationships, studies with perpetrators indicate that the majority of assaults are pre-planned, whether that involves stalking or intentionally getting someone intoxicated in order to incapacitate and sexually assault them.

Adapted from Emory University Sexual Assault Peer Advocate Training

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