What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual violence is any act (verbal and/or physical) which breaks a person’s trust and/or safety and is sexual in nature. The term “sexual violence” includes: rape, incest, child sexual assault, ritual abuse, date and acquaintance rape, marital or partner rape, sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure, and voyeurism. Sexual assaults are acts of violence where sex is used as a weapon. Assaults are motivated primarily out of anger and/or a need to feel powerful by controlling, dominating, or humiliating the victim. Victims/survivors of sexual assaults are forced, coerced, and/or manipulated to take part in unwanted sexual activity. Victims/survivors do not cause their assaults and are not to blame. Offenders are responsible for their assaults.
Know the Truth about Sexual Assault!
Myth: It can’t happen to me.
Fact: People from every population are sexually assaulted: people of all ethnic backgrounds, men and women, children and elder adults, rich and poor, married and single.
Myth: Sometimes victims are at least partly responsible for sexual assault.
Fact: Nothing that a victim does or does not do gives someone the right to commit a sexual assault. People have the right to be free from sexual violation at any time.
Myth: Most rapists are working class men and most victims are women.
Fact: In 90% of cases, the rapist and the victim are of the same socioeconomic strata and race. The stereotype of a working class man raping a woman is part of our country’s legacy of casteism.
Myth: Most rapes are committed by strangers.
Fact: 77% of rapes are committed by someone who is known to the victim.
Myth: Most rapes occur outdoors.
Fact: Nearly 6 out of 10 sexual assaults occur in the victim’s home or at the home of a friend, relative, or neighbor.
Myth: Women frequently “cry rape.”
Fact: The rate of false reports of rape is about 2.5%, the same as for other violent crimes.
Myth: Most sexual assaults result in serious bodily injury or involve weapons.
Fact: In 29% of reported rapes the offender used a weapon. Most assailants make use of threats, trickery, and coercion. Assailants take advantage of a power imbalance of age, size, strength, development, knowledge, status, etc. to humiliate, violate, and control the victim.
Myth: Women can avoid situations that lead to rape.
Fact: Most women are assaulted in environments they considered safe and by people they trust.
Myth: Sexual assault is impulsive behavior.
Fact: Assailants have plans in place before sexual assaults occur. They find ways to isolate and intimidate the victims.
Things to Think About…
You have the right to create boundaries and to set limits.
You have the right to change your mind when you want to.
You have the right to reject unwanted attention.
You have the right to an equal relationship with anyone you choose.
You have the right to be yourself without changing to please others.