Sexual Assault:

Myths & Facts

Realities of Sexual Assault

  • Most women are assaulted by people they know.
  • No one, male or female, deserves to be raped.  Being in someones house or car does not mean you have agreed to have sex with them.
  • You have been raped when you are forced to have sex against your will, whether you fight back or not.
  • Rape is rape, even if the victim has willingly had sex with the perpetrator before.
  • Men don’t physically need to have sex after becoming aroused any more than women do.  Moreover, men are still able to control themselves from forcing sex on a woman even after becoming sexually excited.
  • It is still rape whether the rapist uses a weapon or their fists, coercion, verbal threats, drugs or alcohol, physical isolation, diminished physical or mental state, or simply by the use of their own body weight to overcome you.
  • No one owes sex as a payment for a movie, drinks, etc. no matter how expensive the date was.
  • Everyone has the right to say “No” and to have that “No” respected.

The Numbers:

  • One in four college women report having experienced sexual assault.
  • 90% of college rape and sexual assault victims knew their attacker prior to the assault.
  • Less than 5% of completed or attempted college rapes are reported to law enforcement.
  • Top reasons for not reporting include shame, guilt, embarrassment, not wanting friends and family to know, concerns about confidentiality, and fear of not being believed.
  • According to the FBI, the prevalence of false reporting for sexual assault is only 2%.
  • Alcohol is the most commonly used date rape drug.
  • About 90% of campus rapes are alcohol related.
  • Rape victimization is highest among 16-19 year-olds.

What About Same-Sex Rape and Sexual Assault?

There is a myth that sexual assault doesn’t occur in gay and lesbian relationships, but it is just that, a myth. Women are sometimes raped or sexually assaulted by their female partners or dates, and men can be assaulted by their male partners or dates.  Survivors of same-sex date rape have to deal with the same issues as survivors of opposite-sex date rape, with the addition of concerns about homophobic responses from others and beliefs that same-sex partners cannot sexually assault each other. LGBT survivors of sexual assault may also fear exposing their community to negative reactions and stereotypes and not tell anyone about the rape for that reason. These additional issues make it all the more important for LGBT survivors to find support in helping them to recover and cope with the trauma of having been sexually assaulted. The Sexual Violence Campus Advocate is Safe Zone trained.

Alcohol and Sexual Assault

Various drugs are used to facilitate rape.  Alcohol is by far the most frequently used.  In a national study of college students, 75% of males and 55% of females involved in date rape had been drinking or using drugs prior to assault.   However, it’s important to remember that being under the influence of alcohol during the act of perpetrating a sexual assault is not a valid defense for one’s actions in a court of law, or otherwise.

  • As many as 70% of college students admit to having engaged in sexual activity primarily as a result of being under the influence of alcohol, or to have sex they wouldn’t have had if they had been sober.
  • One in twelve college males admit to having committed acts that met the legal definition of rape.

Alcohol is sometimes used as an excuse for unacceptable behavior.  When a man sexually assaults an acquaintance, he is seen as less responsible for his actions if he was drunk.  Our societal double standard however, results in the woman being seen as “to blame” for the assault if she was intoxicated.  In addition, survivors who were drinking when they were sexually assaulted tend to have more feelings of self-blame.  It is important to remember that no one deserves to be raped.  Choosing to drink alcohol should not be equated with choosing to be sexually assaulted.

According to state law, a person who is unconscious (aka passed out), or incapacitated, whether from alcohol, drugs, or illness, cannot give consent to sex.  Therefore, if sexual contact occurs, it is sexual assault.  When there is any uncertainty about your partner’s ability to give consent, it is wise to wait for another time.

Statistic Resources:

  • Sable, Danis, Mauzy, Gallagher.  Barriers to reporting sexual assault for women and men: perspectives of college students.  School of Social Work, University of Missouri.
  • Reno, Marcus, Leary, and Turman.  “First Response to Victims of Crime.”  Office of Victims of Crime, U.S. Dept. of Justice. 2000.
  • National Commission on Substance Abuse at Colleges and Universities, 1994.