RAPE IS ABOUT UNCONTROLABLE SEXUAL AROUSAL! WOMEN SAY THEY ARE RAPED TO GET REVENGE! These are just a few of the myths surrounding the topic of rape and sexual assault in our society today. We decided for this month’s post we would concentrate on dispelling a few major myths that pollute the mind of so many people.
The first myth we would like to discuss is the one that sounds like this, “Sexual assault is about sexual desire; the perpetrator is unable to control their sexual urges.” This myth also perpetuates the victim- blaming aspect of sexual assault because it can lead some people to believe that the victim somehow provoked or aroused the perpetrator. Sexual assault is, in fact, an act of power and control. It’s not about the person who can’t control themselves and needs to have sex right now; sexual assault is NOT about that uncontrollable sexual desire. Sexual assault does not occur because someone doesn’t have someone else who is willing to have sex with them. On the contrary, most perpetrators do have a consensual sexual partner, such as a girlfriend or wife. Sexual assault, instead, is about wanting to control, degrade, or humiliate the victim. We also know that this act is not spontaneous, as over 80% of sexual assaults are planned in advance.
Another myth that warrants consideration is that women falsely accuse men of rape for personal gain or use it to get even with their partners. This myth is not limited to your average citizen. In our crisis intervention work experience, we have frequently noticed that police treat a victim as if she/he were lying. In extreme cases, police will charge the victim for making a false report. A statistic supporting the opposition of the myth is that only 2% of all reported sexual assaults are false. Our society has a very negative view of sexual assault victims, and the majority of people are not going to lie about being sexually assaulted. The clarification of this myth can remind us to always believe someone who tells us that they are a victim of sexual violence.
So let’s start talking about these subjects and get the ball rolling. When this conversation becomes more comfortable, the issue will no longer be taboo, and these myths will be replaced by facts.