Myths about Sexual Violence
Rape Is Committed by Strangers in Dark Alleys…
It may be easy to believe that one is immune to crime, and that rape is associated with strangers in a dark alley. In reality, the majority of sexual assaults involve someone the victim knows. 68% of young women who were raped knew their rapist as a friend. Most of these rapes occurred at the victim’s home. (Bureau of Justice, Special Report: Intimate Partner Violence, May 2000). It is terrifying to confront the fact that a friend or peers may be a potential perpetrator. It undermines our sense of a community, and no one wants to view themselves as a victim or as a potential victim, but the unwillingness to acknowledge this reality only makes potential victims more vulnerable.
When women wear revealing clothing or come off as promiscuous, they are asking to be raped…
There is never an excuse to rape, even if a person is wearing provocative clothing. Additionally, a person’s past sexual history does not excuse or justify a rape in any way. In fact, many states have “rape shield” laws which prevent anything about a woman’s past sexual history from being used as evidence to destroy her credibility in a court of law.
I was drinking and did not resist enough. It was my fault.
Even when drugs and alcohol impair judgment, if a person is unable to reasonably give consent to sexual activity, proceeding to engage in sexual relations with them will be considered rape or sexual assault. Even if a victim was drinking illegally or taking illegal drugs prior to the attack, he or she should not be afraid to report the incident or feel responsible in any way. If a person feels that they never provided consent to sexual activity, they likely have a claim for rape or sexual assault even if they feel they could have resisted more effectively.
Victim Blaming and Re-victimization
Victim blaming is not only wrong, but incredibly painful for the victim. When a victim speaks out about rape they are often re-victimized by their community through blame or the reluctance to acknowledge the prevalence and reality of rape. This re-victimization is often just as painful and more disheartening than the rape itself. It isolates the victim and encourages shame and silence. There is no excuse not to support a victim of sexual assault, and it is imperative that communities be aware of how they could be inadvertently engaging in victim blaming.
The tendency to blame victims of sexual assault perpetuates a system in which persons are prevented from adequately protecting themselves against rape and from acknowledging that a past sexual encounter could have been a sexual assault. No one is ever “asking” to be raped, and it is essential that communities understand this misconception in order to prevent sexual violence.
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