Crime Victims Services - Sexual Assault - Sexual Assault Myths


The primary motive for sexual assault is sexual.  People who commit sexual assault do not have any other outlet for their sexual needs.

The major motive for sexual assault is power – to overpower and control another person.  Many offenders may suffer from sexual dysfunction during a sexual assault.  However, 3 out of 5 are in consenting sexual relationships.  Rape is not about sex. It is sexualized violence not violent sex.  This myth also allows us to shift the blame to the victim and not the offender.

Sexual assault is provoked by the victim.

This mistaken belief holds that people “ask” to be sexually assaulted through their actions or dress. In fact, studies demonstrate that seventy-one percent (71%) of sexual assaults are planned in advance, making irrelevant the survivor’s demeanor or apparel at the time of the sexual assault.  It is preposterous to believe that someone would ask for or enjoy a physical attach during which they risk contracting venereal disease, pregnancy, injury or even death.

Sexual assault is an impulsive act.

Seventy-one percent (71%) of all sexual assault are planned.  The offender intends to sexually assault someone or a specific someone.  They often take advantage of a person who is in a vulnerable situation.

Sexual assault occurs only among strangers.

Over fifty percent (50%) of all sexual assaults involve acquaintances or friends. In fourteen percent (14%) of the cases reported, the offender is a close personal friend, a member of the family, or a friend of the family.  A person is less likely to report sexual assault by a friend or relative.

Anyone can prevent sexual assault if they really want to.

This myth asserts that no one can be forced to have sex. In fact, since nearly ninety percent of all sexual assaults involve threats of physical harm or the actual use of physical force, it follows that a person might submit to a sexual assault to prevent more severe bodily injury or death.  In addition, most women generally are not brought up to be physically aggressive and are not as physically strong as most men, which makes them more vulnerable to a sexual assault.

Offenders are “perverts”.

This myth assumes that only “sick” or “insane” people are offenders and, again, that obtaining sex is the primary motive for sexual assault.  Believing this myth may cause us to expect the offender to be a marked person with particular characteristics.  If the accused appears and acts normal, we will not believe that they could have committed the crime.