Myths and Facts About Sexual Assault

SEXUAL ASSAULT IS ANY SEXUAL CONTACT OR INTERACTION THAT YOU DID NOT AGREE TO.

Which can include any form of sexual contact (unwanted touching, forced kissing, forced sex, threats of sexual violence, etc.). It may have happened to you in the past, or it may have happened recently. Sexual assault is never justifiable.

Most people assume sexualized violence is rape or sexual assault, but it includes many other forms of violence and encompasses all forms of unwanted sexual contact. Sexualized violence is an overarching term used to describe any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality.

Sexual assault is typically experienced by the mind and body as a trauma, and it is not uncommon for survivors to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many survivors do not immediately recognize that they are suffering from trauma symptoms, and thus their reactions make them feel “crazy” or as if there is something wrong with them that they “can’t handle this well” or “keep it together.”

MYTH  FACT
Sexual assault is most often committed by strangers.  Most sexual assaults are committed by someone known – acquaintances, dates, and common-law or married partners.
Sexual assault is most likely to happen in dark, dangerous places.  The majority of sexual assaults happen in private spaces like a residence or private home.
If a person didn’t scream or fight back, it probably wasn’t sexual assault. 

Fear can render a person unable or unwilling to fight back. In many cases this is the safest response as often if a victim fights back the  perpetrator becomes more violent. 

Use of alcohol or drugs may cause an inability to fend off an assault.

If a person isn’t seriously upset, it was not serious. Every person responds to the trauma of sexual assault differently. It is very common for survivors of any trauma to present as calm and shut off. They may also be angry, or highly emotional.  
If it really happened, the person who was assaulted would remember the details. 

Shock, fear, embarrassment and distress can all impair memory. 

Many victims attempt to minimize or forget the details of the assault as a way of coping with trauma. 

Memory loss is common when alcohol and/or drugs are involved.

People lie and make up stories about being sexually assaulted. 

The number of false reports for sexual assault is very low. 

Women who report their assault often regret it because the consequences are severe. 

Most women prefer not to report for fear of the consequences of reporting.

Teenagers are more likely to report because they are angry with the person or they are ashamed about having sex.

Teens are far less likely to report sexual assaults immediately than adults. 

Teens are more likely to wait until they are adults to report.  This is especially true of males.  

Teens are estimated to report falsely in less than 8% of the cases

Children under 8 almost never report falsely unless they are influenced of a parent.  

It wasn’t rape; it was just sexual assault. 

Vaginal penetration is not required for victims to feel violated, vulnerable and frightened for their lives.  

Often having no clear indicator of “rape” can be confusing for women because they compare themselves to “rape” victims. 

The term rape has been replaced with the term sexual assault.

Only young, pretty women get sexually assaulted.

Women between the ages of 15 – 24 are more likely to be sexually assaulted, but anyone can be assaulted.

Sexual assault is far more common in non-heterosexual men and women and in people with disabilities.  

Romantic partners cannot “rape” one another.  Sexual assault can and does occur in intimate partner relationships. 
People in committed relationships should meet the sexual needs of their partner

Sex is not an obligation or a right.

Under Canadian Law, consent is never implied.

In some cultures, this belief is more prevalent and can affect reporting.  

Men who assault women are sexually frustrated or cannot control themselves.

Sexual assault is not an act of sexuality, it is an act of power and control.  

2/3 of men who sexually assault women are in consenting sexual relationships. 

Most sexual assaults are planned.

The most common date rape drug is Rohypnol The most common date rape drug is alcohol.
A man can’t be sexually assaulted by a woman. Although men are usually sexually assaulted by men, some are assaulted by women. 
Men are rarely sexually assaulted Approximately 8% of men over 15 report being sexually assaulted at least once.
Family and friends are the best support after an assault While almost half of women feel that the perpetrator made them feel they were to blame for the assault, many survivors say that their family makes them feel blamed or ashamed.  
“If I go to the hospital, they will call the police.” (False) So long as you are an adult and it is not a public safety issue the hospital will not call the police. If you are between the ages 13-18 the hospital will not call the police unless the assault is by a person who has a relationship of authority to you or is using an abuse of power.