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Myths and Facts about Sexual Assault


Myth: Most rapes occur when women are out alone at night. Most rapes are committed by strangers.

Fact: Statistics indicate that between 1/3 to 2/3 of all rapes occur in either the victim's home or in some other private residence. Rapes occur at all hours. Studies find that about 75% to 80% of rapists are known by their victims.


Myth: Rapists are identifiable by their physical appearance, actions or words.

Fact: Studies show that rapists do not significantly differ from the average person physically or on psychological profiles, except for being more likely to express rage and aggression. The vast majority of rapists do not look or act demented.


Myth: Rape is an impulsive, uncontrollable act of sexual gratification.

Fact: Studies have shown that between 60% to 75% of rapes are planned in advance. Many rapists wait until their victim is alone, or lure them to a site where no one will interfere. One important emotional payoff for the rapists is to be in control, not out of control. The primary motive displayed by most convicted rapists is aggression, dominance and hatred, not sex.


Myth: “Good” people don't get raped. Only “bad” ones do.

Fact: Rape is an attack in which the victim's life is controlled by the attacker. No person asks for or deserves such an assault.


Myth: People enjoy being raped. They should “relax and enjoy it.”

Fact: This myth stems from failing to differentiate between rape and intercourse. Rape is not sex. It is violence, humiliation, degradation, and often a situation in which a person fears for his or her life.


Myth: Any person could prevent rape if he or she really wanted to; no person can be raped against his or her will.

Fact: The first concern of a rape victim is to survive, to live through the attack. No one but the victim can know at the time of the attack what he or she is capable of doing, what his or her danger is and what methods might succeed. We should not criticize a victim for doing what she feels she must do to save her life. Insisting that a person struggle to the death rather than submit to rape is really telling that person that his or her life is less valuable than his or her sexual integrity.


Myth: Only young, beautiful women in miniskirts get raped. It's can't happen to me.

Fact: Rapists choose their victims without regard to physical appearance. Victims are of every age, gender, shape, race and social class.


This website was modeled after the Aurora Center at the University of Minnesota
May 5, 2009