Myths and Facts

The victims of rape are always women.

False. Men, women, and children - regardless of age, income, or social standing - can be, and are the victims of sexual violence. One form of sexual violence, acquaintance rape, is more common than lefthandedness, heart attacks, or alcoholism.

Sexual violence can be the victim's fault if she dresses seductively, "leads" someone on, or says "no" when she really means "yes."

False. Blaming the victim for the crime is the result of a myth that sexual violence is nothing more than sex. The fact is that sexual violence is a crime of power, a way for the powerless to feel stronger. It has nothing to do with the way someone dresses, acts, or how much she's had to drink. The law is, "NO MEANS NO."

The motive for rape isn't the result of uncontrollable sexual urges. Rather, it's the need to gain a sense of power over the victim.

True. Forcing someone to engage in a sexual act against his or her will is an act of violence and aggression. Sex offenders are not driven by uncontrollable sexual urges, but by an inability to release feelings of anger and helplessness.

About 1 in 20 girls and 1 in 40 boys will become the victims of sexual violence by the time they turn 18.

False. By the time they turn 18, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be victimized. Most commonly, a parent or relative is responsible for the abuse. Babysitters are the second largest group of abusers outside of family members in substantiated cases of child sexual violence in Pennsylvania.

If my child or a child I know was being sexually abused, she/he would tell me right away.

False. 75% of abused children accidentally disclose the information. Because they are confused by the abuse, or may be threatened by the abuser, children don't automatically tell a parent -- even if the child is normally open. If a child is abused by a biological parent, 55% don't disclose the abuse. However, if they feel less loyalty toward their abuser, children are more likely to report.

The victims of sexual violence are usually white, and the offenders are usually black.

False. 90% of all sexual violence involves an offender of the same race as the victim. The misconception that the offender is usually of a different race than the victim is in part because of stereotypes and in part because the media has traditionally sensationalized black-white sex crimes.

Most sexual violence, including child sexual violence is committed by strangers in a dark alleyway or some other out-of-the-way place.

False. Although sexual violence can happen anywhere, to anyone, nearly 27% of all reported rapes occur within the victim's home. An additional 20% occur at, in, or near a friend's or relative's home. These numbers can largely be attributed to the high occurence of acquaintance crimes. Over 50% of all assaults occur during the day.

Acquaintance or date rape often involves alcohol.

True. Although alcohol does not give an offender an excuse to commit a sex crime, it can make the offender and/or victim feel more relaxed, thus placing them in a situation that they would normally avoid. Acquaintance rape on college campuses involves a male perpetrator under the influence of alcohol/drugs 75% of the time. Over 50% of women victims reported being intoxicated or "mildly buzzed."

The victims of sexual violence usually don't know their attacker.

False. 85% of the time, the victim knows his or her attacker.

Men are always the offenders and women are always the victims.

False. Although women are statistically more likely to be the victim, 1 in 4 females and 1 in 10 males will be the victims of sexual violence in their lifetime. Additionally, child sexual violence involves a female offender in 5% of all reported cases.