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April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. To help Hoosiers learn more about this form of trauma and how they can make a difference in the lives of survivors, IU Health Nurse Practitioner Barb Bachmeier shares some of the most common myths related to sexual assault.
1. MYTH: Sexual assault is not going to happen to me.
FACT: Victims almost always say they can’t believe they were raped. The reality is it can happen to anyone, regardless of race, gender or socio-economic status.
2. MYTH: You can avoid rape if you stay away from dangerous places.
FACT: It happens to people in their own homes and places they consider “safe.” Recently we treated a young woman who was raped by someone who abducted her as she was walking down the street in broad daylight.
3. MYTH: If you were raped, you somehow provoked it.
FACT: Rape and sexual assault are crimes of violence and control that stem from a person’s determination to exercise power over another. Neither provocative dress nor promiscuous behaviors are invitations for unwanted sexual activity.
4. MYTH: Rape victims will be battered, bruised and hysterical.
FACT: 95% of victims have no physical injuries, and emotions vary widely from person to person. Some may laugh, some may cry, and others may not show any emotion.
5. MYTH: If you didn’t put up a fight, it must not have been sexual assault.
FACT: Many victims experience tonic immobility, or a “freeze response” during an assault, meaning they physically cannot move or speak.
6. MYTH: All rapists are strangers.
FACT: Most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. It’s often an intimate partner, a former intimate partner, a friend of a friend, or someone the victim met on a dating site.
7. MYTH: Rapists are usually prosecuted.
FACT: Rape is the least reported and convicted crime in the U.S. There are a lot of reasons for that. Victims are concerned about not being believed, and they often feel embarrassed and ashamed. The criminal justice system is not victim friendly. Fewer than 5% of rape cases go to court.
8. MYTH: Women falsely accuse men of sexual assault.
FACT: According to the FBI, only 2% of rapes are falsely reported.
9. MYTH: Men can’t be sexually assaulted.
FACT: While it’s more common in women – one in three have been a victim of sexual violence – one in six men have experienced sexual assault.
10. MYTH: Serial rapists are uncommon.
FACT: Perpetrators of sexual violence almost always have criminal histories, including previous rapes. It’s a crime of power and control. It’s never about the sex.
If you would like to support our Centers of Hope, which provide care for victims of all forms of trauma, click here. Once directed to the site, select "Other" under "Please Direct My Gift To" and then type "Center of Hope."