What is Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is a term that is used to refer to a number of acts, including unwanted touching, acquaintance or stranger rape, rape with objects, sexual harassment, and incest.

Some people think that when either the attacker (the person who assaults) or the survivor (the person who is assaulted) has been drinking or using drugs, this behavior is excusable or was not an assault. This is not true. Assault is a choice, and whether or not judgment is impaired from substances, if someone does not consent to a sexual act, it IS an assault. Some survivors may blame themselves, because it is often easier to blame ourselves for our experiences of violence than it is to believe that we live in a world where someone would choose to harm us. It is never the survivor’s fault that they were assaulted.

1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience some form of sexual assault before the age of 18. Some survivors choose to report to the police, and some do not. You should do what you feel is right for you. Many survivors find it helpful to talk about the experience with someone they trust, whether or not they decide to report.

Myths About Sexual Assault

MYTH #1: People who wear short skirts, tight low-cut shirts, or other revealing clothes are at fault if they are sexually assaulted.

FACT: The only person responsible for a sexual assault is the perpetrator. Women are taught to dress attractively, but if they do so, people blame them and might say that they are “asking for it”. Women are supposed to have the right to study and hold a job, but if they go to the library late at night and are assaulted, people might blame them again and say that they “asked for it” by being out late. No person deserves to be attacked or to have their wishes ignored. No person wants to be assaulted and lose total control of their emotional and physical well-being.

MYTH #2: Most men who rape are strangers who assault their victims in dark alleys and parks.

FACT: Most rapes are committed by people known to the victim. The rapist could be a friend, an acquaintance, a relative, a husband, or a boyfriend. Most rapes occur indoors, often in the victim’s or rapist’s homes or in other places where the survivor feels like they should be safe.

MYTH #3: People don’t get sexually assaulted or raped in dating relationships or marriage.

FACT: Sexual assault and rape do happen in relationships where people are dating or married. Every person should have the right to make choices about their own bodies at all times. No means no, even if you’re in the middle of a sexual act, are naked, or have had sex with that person before.

MYTH #4: If a person doesn’t kick, scream, and fight when someone is trying to rape them, it isn’t really a rape.

FACT: Some people do choose to use physical force to try and protect themselves from an assault and some people know that if they attempt to fight, they will be injured even more. If a person does not use physical self-defense it doesn’t mean they were giving consent. Whatever the victim does to survive an assault is the best and wisest decision.

MYTH #5: Men who rape need sex and aren’t getting it.

FACT: Rape is an act of violence where one person is attempting to have power and control over the other. Rape is not about sex, it’s about power and control. In fact, the majority of rapists have regular sexual partners.

MYTH #6: I heard that women try to get revenge on men by falsely accusing them of rape.

FACT: According to the FBI, women falsely accuse men of rape about as often as people falsely report any other crime---between 1-2% of the time. It is such an ordeal for a woman to go through reporting an assault, having a trial and dealing with unsupportive friends and family that women have little or nothing to gain from falsely accusing a man of rape.

MYTH #7: I heard that if a woman leads someone on sexually, there is a point when it’s not right for her to stop or turn back because he won’t be able to control himself and might be in pain.

FACT: Anyone who is involved with someone sexually can always choose to stop at any time no matter what. Everyone has the right to be in control of their own body ALL THE TIME. A lot of people think that men and boys cannot control themselves if they get too excited, but the truth is that they can. There is no excuse for sexual assault.