Thought Catalog
September 22, 2015

The 10 Biggest Misconceptions Of Date Rape And Rape Culture

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What is the issue?
Flickr / Mike Maguire
Flickr / Mike Maguire

1. Myth:  It’s about sex.

Truth: It’s about power.

Movies would have us believe that rape is something triggered by sexual arousal–that the men and women whom have fallen victim to assault triggered or ignited a passion within their rapist by their beauty, flirtation, or something of the sort. Rape is not about sex. Rape is about power. It’s about hearing the word “no,” and being angered. It’s about dominating someone else. It’s about a disgusting and vile creature feeling empowered.

According to the Sexual Assault Prevention & Awareness Center, “Sexual assault is highly sexualized in our society due to the link between sex and violence prevalent in our culture. Many people have sexual desires, but not everyone commits sexual assault.” Therefore, rape and sexual assault is an act of violence; an act far too prevalent in our country and around the world.

2. Myth: Assaults are committed by strangers.

Truth: Most survivors know their perpetrator.

Again, this is a misconception produced by false media representation. A reported 84% of women raped know or knew their assailants. As an assault victim advocate, I have the unfortunate opportunity to meet dozens of girls and women with a story of sexual assault. The vast majority know their perpetrator or live with their perpetrator.  I also have several friends who are survivors of sexual assault. I am a survivor of sexual assault. And I knew my rapist.

3 .Myth: Assaults are spur of the moment.

Truth: Date rape is pre-planned.

Clearly when a man or woman stalks you in the night or puts a controlled substance in your drink, the rape was pre-planned. Perhaps less obvious? When a guy at a party purposely pours a heavy hand of alcohol to get you intoxicated–that is rape. When a guy keeps pressuring you because you will cave–that is rape. Rape is methodical. Because of the tolerance of rape culture, it appears “animalistic,” but it is something premeditated.

4. Myth: It’s only rape if you physically fight back.

Truth: Your body goes into shock.

One of the most insulting things you can say to a survivor of sexual assault (besides, “It’ll get better, don’t worry”) is, “Why didn’t you fight back more?”

We are commonly taught that the body responds in either a flight or fight reaction. There is a third option: freeze. Similar to the tactics taught when you see a wild animal, when you are being viciously attacked, you “play dead” or you freeze. In that moment, a survivor often thinks, “It will be over soon. And if I fight back, he will kill me or hurt me.” If you freeze, you are still being raped.

5. Myth: Once you’ve said yes, you can’t say no.

Truth: “No” always means NO.

You didn’t sign a contractual obligation. And even if you did – it’s YOUR body. Your ideas, your mind, your will is ALL part of your body. NO ONE has rule over that. If he enters you, you can say “no”, and he must stop. If he’s calling you sexy, and realizes it’s going somewhere you’re not comfortable with, you can say “no”, and he must stop. And even if you lured him or enticed him under the notion that you two would have sex, and then you change your mind; you can say “no”, and he. must. stop.

6. Myth: Women lie about being raped.

Truth: 2% of reported rapes are false. Which is the same as any other crime.
A more interesting statistic is the 97% of rapists who will never spend a night in jail. But I digress.

Uttering the words, “I was raped,” or “I was forced”, or anything relating to such a crime takes breathless efforts before successful. And once you’re strong enough to muster and push the syllables from your lips—it’s a soft cry. Few wail about being violated, fewer talk about it at all.

7. Myth: Most rapists are aggressive, creepy, unattractive men.

Truth: A rapist can – and often does – resemble like your neighbor or peers you regularly see.

A small fraction of rapists resemble the man in a horror movie or true crime documentary, but the vast majority look exactly like your frat brother, or your sister, or your dad, or your cheer coach. And women can be rapists too. The students who are preyed upon by their teachers are not “cool” and shouldn’t be high-fived. They are victims of sexual assault, and the teacher should be in jail.

8. Myth: Women can prevent rape.

Truth: People could ….not rape other people. (Mind. Blown.)

I have a few questions; can you 100% prevent kidnapping? Can you 100% prevent being jumped? If I make nothing else clear – rape is an act of violence. Just as the girl with a bruised lip “didn’t ask for it”, the girl with a bruised vagina, “didn’t ask for it.”

9. Myth: “Real” victims are sad all of the time.

Truth: Every survivor has a different series of reactions.

Yes, there are millions who immediately suffer from PTSD and/or depression after the assault. But thousands of survivors do not have a reaction for months or even years. Grief strikes each victim individually. In fact, many thousands of survivors block out their rape experience for years before having a physical reaction.

10. Myth: Sexual assault is a women’s issue.

Truth: Men are also raped.

According to RAINN, 1 in 33 American  men is raped. If you’re doing the math, that’s a few million harboring pain, and due to the stigma surrounding rape and sexual violence, men are even less likely than women to come forward and admit to being a victim of assault, let alone reporting it. TC mark

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