Myths and Facts

Myth: Sexual violence can sometimes be the victim’s fault

Fact: Sexual violence is NEVER the victim’s fault. It doesn’t matter if the victim was dressed seductively, drinking or using drugs, out at night alone, homosexual on a date with the perpetrator, etc.- no one asks to be raped or sexually assaulted. The responsibility and blame lie with the perpetrator, never with the victim.

The absence of injuries often suggests to others that the victim failed to resist and, therefore, must have consented. Often, rapists only need the threat of violence to control their victims. They also sometimes use “date rape” drugs, especially alcohol, to incapacitate their victims.

Some victims submit to the assault for fear of greater harm. Submitting does not mean the victim gave consent. Each rape victim does whatever he/she needs to do at the time in order to survive.

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape

Myth: If the people are dating, it’s not rape

Fact: Rape is rape, no matter what the relationship is between the victim and the perpetrator. Rape is not just committed by strangers in dark alleys. It is estimated that almost 70% of all rape and sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. In 2002, 10% of female rape or sexual assault victims identified an intimate as the offender, 57% of rapes and sexual assaults came at the hands of a person the female victim called a friend or acquaintance, and 2% were identified as “other relative.”

Rennison, Callie. “Criminal Victimization, 2002.” Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice

Everyone has the right to change their mind – even about sex. One form of sexual contact does not necessarily open the door to other sexual activity. Even if the two have had sex before, the perpetrator does not have the right to force sex on the victim.

There are many ways a person can be forced into sexual activity. Sometimes perpetrators use physical force or a weapon, but more often they use coercion, manipulation, or psychological pressure.

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape

Myth: Most rapes are committed by strangers

Fact: Sexual violence can occur at any time and be perpetrated by anybody. It is a common misconception that most sexual assaults are committed by strangers. You are more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone you know-a friend, date, classmate, neighbor, relative-than by a stranger in a dark alley. Familiar people and places are often more dangerous.

Of the over 247,000 women raped or sexually assaulted during 2002, 67% identified the perpetrator as a nonstranger.

Rennison, Callie. August 2003. "Criminal Victimization, 2002." National Criminal Victimization Survey. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.

Nearly 6 out of 10 rape/sexual assault incidents occurred in the victim’s home or at the home of a friend, relative or neighbor.

Greenfeld, Lawrence. Sex Offenses and Offenders. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, February 1997

Myth: Serial rapists are uncommon

Fact: Almost every rapist is a serial rapist, meaning that they repeatedly choose to use coercion, violence, threats of force, manipulation, etc... to assault victims.

YWCA West Central Michigan