Sexual assault is one of the most traumatizing experiences a person can have in their lifetime.
It incurs long-lasting emotional and psychological damage on victims, leading to depression, anxiety, and social isolation.
Despite the relative frequency of various sexual assault crimes, there remains many misconceptions about this particular offense.
Untangling these myths is crucial to increasing awareness, as it will enable others to better understand the motivations of the assailant, the state of mind of the victim, and to take the necessary steps that can help prevent sexual assault in the future.
A Victim’s Crime: 5 Myths Concerning Sexual Assault
There are many myths surrounding the issue of sexual assault, and below are 5 of the most common:
1. Sexual Assault Occurs Because of an Assailant’s Uncontrollable Sexual Urges
This myth is a good example of one of the most unfortunate thought trends regarding the nature of sexual assault in our culture: the idea that it happens because of an uncontrollable desire.
The problem with this argument is that it removes personal responsibility from the assailant; while sex and violence are often linked in our culture, it is important to remember that sexual assault does not necessarily have anything to do with sexual urges.
Rape and other violent forms of sexual assault are not about carnal desire; they are about power and control.
This can be perceived by simply looking at the sort of people who often fall victim to sexual assault: namely, the elderly or children, individuals who are not typically considered “sexy.”
Of course, making assault about sex rather than violence is easier for many people to process, since it allows the crime to seem less malicious.
However, remember this: such a misconception gives offenders the built-in excuse that they simply wanted sex and “went too far.”
2. If There Is No Struggle, It Is Not Assault or Rape
This would rule out many legitimate sexual assault claims, due to the fact that many offenders are not looking for a fight; they use other forms of coercion and manipulation in order to achieve their goals.
Struggle does not define whether or not a certain action is unwanted sexual contact, and whether or not that action is punishable by law.
For example, alcohol and “date rape” drugs are used to render victims incapable of fighting back at all; thus, the fact that a person is incapacitated does not meant that he or she was not sexually assaulted.
Sexual assault ought to be defined by the actions of the perpetrator, not the victim.
3. Most Sexual Assault Offenders Are Strangers
Unfortunately, this is not the case. What makes sexual assault even more traumatizing for victims is that it is very often inflicted by family members, friends, partners, spouses, or acquaintances.
4. Offenders Are Psychotic or Mentally Ill
This once more demonstrates a “they-can’t-help-themselves” mentality that removes moral blame from the assailant and places it more on the victim. It also makes the act seem less heinous or amoral.
While there are certainly cases where sex offenders suffer from mental or emotional disorders, those who commit violent acts of sexual assault are rarely incompetent or “out of touch” with the world around them.
In fact, many types of sexual assault are carefully planned out, suggesting higher levels of cool-headed competency than most people would like to believe.
5. Victims Were Somehow “Asking” for It
There is a commonly perpetuated belief that a victim’s attire (i.e., a short skirt, skimpy shorts, high heels) or behavior was somehow “seductive” (i.e., flirtatious after drinking), and that they are somewhat to blame for catching the eye of an assailant and becoming a victim of assault.
As already mentioned, a victim’s sex appeal is often not even taken into account during situations of violent assault; violent sexual assault is about forcing someone to conform to one’s will. It is about wielding power where one has no right to do so.
In the worst cases (such as rape), it involves taking away something that is deeply integral to the dignity of human beings: sexual intimacy and the ability to consent to its free expression.
Nobody ever “asks” for sexual assault. No one would request to be deliberately humiliated or violated, and victims are never to blame for being assaulted.
Sexual Assault Prevention: You Can Help
Everyone can play a role in helping prevent sexual assault. While many people do not think their actions could be very effective, bystanders can actually be crucial in perceiving and apprehending sexual assault crimes.
The hesitation to act is linked to a variety of factors, none of them necessarily malicious. For example, it could involve factors such as not knowing to say, not wanting to cause a scene, not thinking it is their business, or assuming that someone else will intervene.
These thoughts are nothing to be ashamed of; they are natural concerns that would arise in anyone’s mind.
However, it is important to remember that if everyone assumes “someone else” will do something, the result is often that no one does anything.
If you suspect a family member is being assaulted, if you witness someone being attacked across the street, or if a friend confides in you, recognize these situations for what they are: opportunities to take preventative measures.
Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
If you have experienced sexual assault, or you suspect someone you know has or is experiencing it, speak with a personal injury attorney at Clore Law right away to learn more about making a claim.