Myths and Realities

Most of us are taught to think that if we are smart, careful, and follow specific rules, we can stop something like sexual violence from happening to us. Sometimes, that has the effect of self-blame for victimization because we "didn't do enough"or "didn't" do the right thing." But as you'll find out, understanding sexual violence better, we want you to understand the facts about sexual violence so you can begin to believe that you did not cause yourself to be assaulted. Rape can happen to anyone.

Rape is a devastating violation of body, mind, and spirit. Sexual assault takes your feelings of control and safety away, no matter who you are or who the perpetrator is. Every survivor has characteristics or previous experiences that impact the way the assault feels to them. Survivors often wonder what they did to cause a sexual assault to happen. Sometimes, placing responsibility on yourself feels safer, as if by blaming yourself, you can ensure it will never happen again. This does not keep you safer because you did not cause the
assault. Experiencing some feelings of guilt is normal, but you are not responsible for the rapist's behavior. The rape was not your fault.

Myth: It could never happen to me.
Reality: Anybody can be raped, regardless of age, gender, gender identity, class, race, occupation, religion, sexual orientation or physical appearance. In Utah, one in eight women will be raped, and one in three will be sexually assaulted.

Myth: I can spot a rapist.
Reality: It is impossible to tell if someone has sexually assaulted or raped another person by simply looking at them.

Myth: Rapists are acting on impulse.
Reality: Sexual assault is an act of violence, power, and control - not passion. Rape is not the result of sexual arousal. Offenders seek power by taking it away from someone else. Sex is the weapon used to commit the crime.

Myth: If I didn't fight back, it's my fault, or it wasn't really rape.
Reality: Submitting to sexual assault to save your life, to keep from being hurt, or because you were afraid does not make it any less of a crime. Some survivors "freeze" or "space out." Deciding to be still or pretend to "go along" with a rapist is another way to fight back and is not the same as consent. SUBMISSION IS NOT CONSENT. If you did not want it, it was sexual assault.

Myth: Rapes are committed in dark alleys by strangers.
Reality: Over 80% of sexual assault cases were perpetrated by men who knew the women they assaulted. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 6 out of 10 rapes and sexual assaults occur in the victim's home or at the home of a friend, relative, or neighbor. 


No one deserves to be raped

If you have been sexually assaulted, the sexual assault was not your fault. Anything you did to live through the rape is valid. Every survivor of sexual violence is different and reacts in their own unique way to an assault. If you do not recognize yourself here, that does not mean your reaction was wrong. For most people, the main task during an assault is survival.