Myths and Facts
Myths and Facts About Rape
There are numerous myths about sexual violence and its victims. These myths are dangerous to everyone because they allow us to believe we are safe. Everyone is a potential victim of sexual violence, anytime, anyplace, anywhere.
MYTH: Rape won’t happen to me or to anyone I know.
FACT: Men, women, and children. . . young and old… all races, religions, economic classes … in rural areas, small towns, or large cities … can be and have been victims. One in every ten women will be a victim of a rape in her lifetime. One in every three to four girls and one in every six to ten boys will be sexually abused by the age of eighteen. A rape occurs every five minutes in the United States, according to the FBI. Rape is the most underreported of all crimes. Some data suggests that 80%-90% of rapes are never reported to the police.
MYTH: The motive for rape is sexual. Rape is the result of either uncontrollable sexual urges or a lack of sexual opportunities.
FACT: The motive for rape is the need to feel powerful and in control. Forcing someone to engage in sexual intercourse against her or his will is an act of violence and aggression. Sex is the weapon used to humiliate and control the victim. In studies of convicted rapists the majority, whether married or single, had consenting sexual partners. Rapists are not driven by uncontrollable sexual urges, but by an inability to release feelings of anger and helplessness.
MYTH: The victim must fight back for it to be called rape.
FACT: Fighting back is not a criterion for rape. Rape is being forced to have sex. Even a threat of force that prevents an individual from resisting is defined as rape.
MYTH: Victims of rape ask for it. They provoke an attack by their behavior, attitudes, or dress.
FACT: No one asks to be the victim of a violent, life-threatening act. No one is responsible for someone else’s violent behavior. Blaming the victim is based on the myth that rape is nothing more than sex. The fact is that infants and the elderly, males and females, are all victims of sexual violence. Most victims fear for their lives; they believe they will be killed or severely injured. The fact is anyone can be a victim of sexual violence.
MYTH: Rapists are black and the victims are white.
FACT: Over 90% of rapes happen between people of the same race. Whites tend to rape whites; blacks tend to rape blacks.
MYTH: Most rapes are committed by strangers in the dark of night in out-of-the-way places.
FACT: Over 80% of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. People are at greater risk because they do not recognize familiar people or people from the same social, economic, racial, or cultural backgrounds as possible rapists. The majority of assaults occur in the home of the victim or the offender, or someone the victim or offender knows. Over 50% of assaults occur during the day.
MYTH: Women falsely accuse men of rape.
FACT: The FBI has stated that false reports of rape are no higher than false reports for other crimes. Such accusations account for only 2% of reported rapes.