Understanding Sexual Violence
Myths about sexual violence, which are often based on victim-blaming attitudes, are prevalent in our society. As a survivor or the loved one of a survivor, you may hear these myths from those around you. It’s important to understand that rape is never OK and it is never the fault of the survivor. Read below to examine and reject ten common myths about rape.
Myth 1: “It happened because you drank too much.”
Reality: Intoxication is not an excuse for sexual assault. Drinking is not an invitation for sexual activity.
Myth 2: “Your clothes were too revealing.”
Reality: Similar to drinking, clothing is not indicative of desire for sexual activity. Wearing “revealing” clothing is not an invitation for sexual activity.
Myth 3: “You were leading them on.”
Reality: Whether or not you were romantically or sexually interested in a person, you do not owe the person anything. Flirting or perceptions of flirting are not indicative of an interest in engaging in sexual activity.
Myth 4: “You should have fought back.”
Reality: What people don’t realize is that during traumatic experiences, the body has physical reactions that are not always controllable. Many survivors experience tonic immobility, which is when the brain’s defense mechanism is to tell the body to freeze. It is not always possible to “fight back,” especially in situations when the assailant is bigger, stronger, or holds power (physical or mental).
Myth 5: “It’s not a big deal.”
Reality: No one gets to define the severity of your trauma but you. Only you get to decide whether or not it was a “big deal.”
Myth 6: “You didn’t say no, so how were they supposed to know?”
Reality: Consent is not not saying no. Consent is an enthusiastic affirmation of sexual activity. You do not need to say no for it to be considered rape or sexual abuse.
Myth 7: “If you’re dating or married to them, it doesn’t count.”
Reality: Many incidents of sexual violence are perpetrated by someone the survivor knows, trusts, or loves. You do not owe your partner anything just because of your relationship status or previous consentual sexual experiences.
Myth 8: “If you experienced orgasm, it doesn’t count.”
Reality: The body has physical reactions that are not always controllable. Natural lubrication, erection, ejaculation, or orgasms do not mean you enjoyed what happened. Someone can tickle you and you can hate it but still laugh.
Myth 9: “You can’t just decide not to have sex after you’ve already turned them on.”
Reality: Consent can be given or taken away at any time. Just because they’re turned on does not mean you owe them anything.
Myth 10: “It’s your fault.”
Reality: It is never your fault. The only person to blame is the perpetrator.
To make an appointment, contact us at (216) 619-6194, ext. 141, or request an appointment online. If you need immediate assistance outside of normal office hours, please call our 24-hour crisis and support hotline at (216) 619-6192 or (440) 423-2020 or chat online.