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Rape Culture Myths

Rape culture is a culture in which sexual assault is normalized through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of bodies, and the trivialization of sexual violence.

1. Men can't be sexually assaulted.

Approximately 1 out of every 10 survivors of sexual assault is male. People of any gender can be sexually assaulted, not just women.1

2. People commit sexual assault because they can't get sex consensually.

Sexual assault is often an opportunistic crime and is more about power and control than it is about the desire for sexual intercourse.2

3. Most sexual assaults are perpetrated by strangers.

Approximately 8 out of every 10 rapes are committed by someone known to the survivor.3

4. Most accusations of sexual assault are false, because people want revenge or attention.

False accusations of sexual assault do not occur often. False reporting of sexual assault is estimated at 2 percent to 8 percent, which parallels false reporting of all other violent crimes. When false reports are made it is often due to some serious, underlying issue, such as psychological problems or fear for safety.4

5. They were asking to be sexually assaulted by wearing suggestive clothing or flirting.

Clothing or behavior do not necessarily imply consent or desire for sexual contact.5

6. If you have sex with someone once, you can't be sexually assaulted by them.

Consent can be given or taken away at any time, regardless of whether you or your sexual partner(s) has/have given consent before. Sexual assault can occur in any type of relationship (casual, dating, intimate, domestic, etc.) and can affect sex workers.6

7. It is not sexual assault unless the rapist used physical force and the survivor physically struggled.

Sexual assault is not always physically violent. Perpetrators often use threats or coercion to rape. Many survivors experience tonic immobility and freeze during the assault or do not fight back out of fear of greater bodily harm.7

8. Most perpetrators use “date rape drugs” to facilitate sexual assault.

Few survivors of sexual assault test positive for “date rape drugs” such as rohypnol and GHB. The most common “date rape drug” is actually alcohol as approximately half of sexual assaults involve alcohol.8

9. There is nothing we can do to prevent sexual assault.

Bystanders can intervene to help prevent sexual assault in risky situations. Learn more here. (link to How to Help a Friend).9

10. If they were drinking, they were asking to be raped.

Drinking never implies consent or desire for sexual contact. Alcohol is often used by sexual offenders as a means to take advantage of someone by incapacitating them.5


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