Rape Myths and Facts

Rape exists, in part, because society continues to support most myths which condone the act itself and place the blame and responsibility upon the victim. These attitudes can be seen in our literature, religions, laws, music, science, advertising, and daily conversation - all aspects of our culture. Listed below are some common misconceptions, followed by a factual response.

Myth: Rape is an impulsive crime. It is an act of sexual gratification.

Fact: 90% of group rapes are planned. 58% of single rapes are planned. 75% of all rapes are planned. Practically every word of this myth can be converted by facts. Impulsive, controllable; as seen above, a majority of rapes are planned. Also, one important emotional payoff for the rapist is to be in control, not out of control. The primary motive displayed by most convicted rapist is aggression, dominance, and anger, NOT sex. Sex is used as a weapon to inflict violence, humiliation, and conquest on a victim.

Myth: Rape is not a serious problem in our country.

Fact: Rape is the  fastest-growing and most under reported crime. Over "one-third" of all women in this country will be sexually assaulted or abused in their lifetime. An estimated 4-5 out of every 10 of all American children (under 16) are sexually molested. 50% are males. Studies show about 90% of these involve someone the child already knows. Only about 1 in 10 rapes of adults is reported, and fewer assaults of children are reported.

Myth: Only young beautiful women are raped.

Fact: Although women between the ages of 15 and 25 are at somewhat higher risk of sexual assault than any other age groups, victims of reported rape in this country range from 3 weeks old to 93 years old.

Myth: Good people don't get raped. Only bad people get raped.

Fact: Rapist and other sex offenders attack people of all races, ages, social backgrounds, and all moral persuasions. Yet many people believe in this myth. It serves as a defense mechanism for them. People feel safer if they believe that something that the victim did, or some way the victim lived, provoked the attack. Therefore, if they continue to live and act circumspectly, nothing bad will happen to them. This is, perhaps, one of the most dangerous myths anybody can believe.

Myth: Women provoke rape by the way they dress, "they ask for it."

Fact: No woman's dress or behavior gives someone the right to sexually assault her. According to the Federal Commission on Crimes of Violence, only 4% of the reported sexual assaults involved any participative behavior by the victim, and most of this consisted of nothing more than dressing or walking in a way that is socially defined as attractive. Even in a situation where a woman is flirtatious or clearly interested in sex, she is not asking for rape. Rape in an attack in which the victim's life is controlled by the attacker. No person asks for or deserves such an assault. A hitchhiker is asking for a ride, not a violent attack. Part of the problem also lies in the interpretation men put on women's behavior. When women are cheerful and friendly, which they have been taught to be, some men interpret this as a "come-on." Again, this myth forms a part of the "good woman's" defense against a sense of vulnerability.

Myth: If it is really rape, the victim is badly hurt. Anybody could prevent a rape if they really wanted to. Nobody can be raped against their will.

Fact: The first concern of the victim is to survive the attack. No one but the victim can know what they are capable of doing, what the danger is, and what methods might succeed. A victim should not be criticized for doing what they feel they must to save their life or avoid serious bodily injury. Insisting that a victim struggle to the death than submit to rape is really telling them that their sexual integrity is more important than their life.