Sexual Assault – Misconceptions and Truth

Sexual Assault – Misconceptions and Truth

It’s not always easy to know what to say when someone tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted, especially if they are a friend or family member. For a survivor, disclosing to someone they care about can be very difficult, so we encourage you to be as supportive and non-judgmental as possible.

Sexual assault survivors have to deal with a lot of silencing, from the legal system, families, institutional structures and often their own emotional trauma, guilt, and shame; so many of the best ways to help and support them are structured around facilitating their voices, and allowing them to be heard. Nothing more, nothing less.


In a broader context, you can show your willingness to stand up for them and all victims in general by being involved, and stopping anybody who’s spreading inconsistencies or myths about sexual assault and its victims and perpetrators. It’s not difficult, though it does require action. But you don’t need to feel powerless, or as if you can’t do enough to help people who’ve been hurt.

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Sexual Assault Myths And Truth

Misconception 1:

Sexual assault happens because people need sex. People get carried away by their sexual desires and/or hormones and loose control.


Sexual assault is a form of sexualized violence, that is, violence enacted in a sexual way. Like many other crimes, sexual assault is about power and control. Sexual assault happens because perpetrators put their desires over the survivor’s agency to consent. The survivor is never to blame.

Misconception 2:

Sexual assault is sex.


Sexual assault is an act of violence, not sex. This is an important distinction because by framing sexualized violence as about sex and not about violence we focus on the perpetrator’s narrative and not the survivor’s. Focusing on the perpetrator’s narrative leads society to blame the victim and to not hold the perpetrator accountable for their actions.



Misconception 3:

Sexual assault is correlated with sexually repressed societies. If people had more sexual opportunities, sexual assault would be less frequent.


This misconception again ties sexual violence to uncontrollable sexual desire. People don’t commit sexual assault because they don’t have enough sexual opportunities. People commit sexual assault because they feel entitled to other people’s bodies and disregard other people’s right to consent.

Misconception 4:

Men can’t be sexually assaulted.


Men are also survivors of sexual violence, and their perpetrators can be of any gender identity, including both men and women.  All survivors deserve our advocacy, support, and activism. There continues to be a great deal of resistance in many spaces to recognizing men as survivors, and this resistance is reinforced by misconceptions like “men can’t be forced to have sex” or “men want sex all the time,” both of which are false.

Misconception 5:

There’s no way that person could be a rapist – they’re good looking, nice, and have always been a positive role model in our community. Why would they sexually assault someone when there are so many people who would want to be with them?


Likable and charming people commit violence, too.


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