Sexual violence myths harm survivors, but communities can help disspell them

Elle Davis, Co-Fold Editor

One goal of Sexual Assualt Awareness Month (SAAM) is to remind communities of how incredibly important it is to have conversations about sexual violence. Even if it is difficult to talk about, discussions allow us to educate and dispel the myths which negatively impact survivors and our social response.

The list below contains some of the most common sexual violence myths and the facts that debunk them. The Wolf encourages anyone and everyone to bring up these facts the next time they encounter a false statement about sexual violence.  

Myth: A lot of people lie about being assaulted / false reports are common.

Fact: According to a 2009 study, only 2 to 8 percent of rapes are falsely reported, the same rate as other felonies in the United States.

Myth: Men cannot be victims of sexual violence.
Fact: While certain factor – such as stigma, traditional gender roles and victim blaming – make it harder to collect data on male survivors, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 3 percent of American men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. This number rises to one in six, or 16.6 percent when including sexual assualt and abuse.

Myth: It’s not sexual assault if somebody has already consented and then changes their mind.

Fact: Any and all sexual activity requires clear, reciprocal consent. Additionally, consent can be withdrawn at any time.

Myth: By wearing a certain type of clothing, flirting, or being under the influence, a victim was “asking for it.”

Fact: No one can cause a perpetrator to commit a crime against them.

Myth: Most victims don’t know their assailant.

Fact: According to the CDC, the majority of sexual assualts are committed by someone that the victim knows, whether that be a family member, friend, co-worker, classmate, spouse, partner or acquaintance.

Myth: Sexual violence can’t be prevented.
Fact: Communities can start by raising awareness around social norms that counteract violence, such as encouraging intervention from bystanders, but also by addressing and educating people about risk and protective factors.