Myths and Facts

One of the things we know about sexual violence is that there is a lot of misinformation about it. Many of the things we have been taught or see in the media are inaccurate and some of them are only partially true. Read on to see some of the myths we are trying to combat.

Myths and Facts About Sexual Violence

  • Most survivors are assaulted by strangers. FALSE. Most survivors know the person who victimized them. Studies show that more than 50 percent of rapes occur in the survivor’s home or living space; 33 percent of assaults happen in the daytime; 85 percent of rapes are committed by someone the survivor knows and, in some capacity, trusts.
  • The responsibility for preventing rape is on a potential survivor. FALSE. We often hear about all the ways people can protect themselves from being sexually assaulted, but the responsibility completely falls on the person who sexually assaults. A survivor should not be blamed for someone else’s criminal acts.
  • If a person had sex with me before, they have consented to have sex with me again. FALSE. The UO Student Conduct Code requires explicit consent for every act. Making out with someone does not mean you have permission to go further. In addition, having consensual sex previously does not mean you have permission forever. Consent can be given and taken away at any point.
  • Men cannot be harmed by sexual assault. FALSE. One in 16 men are sexually assaulted in their college years. Conversely, the vast majority of sexual assault is committed by men—98 percent. Those men commit sexual assault against women, men, trans people, and those who do not conform to gender norms.
  • Survivors provoke rape when they dress provocatively, act sexy, or go to someone’s room, house, or party. FALSE. Neither provocative dress nor promiscuous behavior are invitations for unwanted sexual activity.Forcing someone or coercing someone to engage in nonconsensual sexual activity is sexual assault, regardless of the way that person dresses or acts.
  • You can tell that a person has really been sexually assaulted because they will be highly emotional. FALSE. Some survivors might be really calm, while others might be confused or angry. There is no “right way” to react after being sexually assaulted. Assumptions about the way a survivor “should act” may be detrimental because every person reacts differently to trauma.
  • If a person was really sexually assaulted, they would report to police. FALSE. For every incident of sexual assault or abuse reported, at least 80 are not. Rape or sexual assault is the violent crime least often reported to law enforcement, as survivors may fear retaliation or that they won’t be believed. Survivors have a right to report, but they are not obligated to.
  • Many reports of sexual assault or abuse turn out to be false. FALSE. This is a pervasive myth. The research has been replicated over and over again—showing that the false reporting rate for sexual assault is the same as any other felony crime, between two and 10 percent of all reports.
  • Sexual assault occurs because men cannot control their sexual urges. FALSE. Humans are capable of controlling how they choose to act on or express sexual urges. Consider how you might respond if your parents walked in while you were making out with someone. You would stop. Because you can.
  • Sexual assault is not my problem. FALSE. Sexual assault is everyone’s problem. As Ducks, we are committed to taking this problem seriously, intervening when we see something wrong, and owning that it’s on each of us to end sexual violence.


References (for statistics in order of appearance):

  • Lawrence A. Greenfeld, “Sex Offenses and Offenders: An Analysis of Data on Rape and Sexual Assault,”Bureau of Justice Statistics NCJ-163392 (1997). 
  • Lawrence A. Greenfeld, “Sex Offenses and Offenders: An Analysis of Data on Rape and Sexual Assault,”Bureau of Justice Statistics NCJ-163392 (1997). 
  • N. J. Salkind, ed., Encyclopedia of human development (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc., 2005).
  • Jeffrey L. Sedgwick, “Criminal Victimization in the Unites States, 2005 Statistical Tables: National Crime Victimization Survey,” Bureau of Justice Statistics NCJ 215244 (2006).
  • D. J. Kilpatrick, C. N. Edmunds, and A. Seymour, “Rape in America: A Report to the Nation,” National Victim Center and Crime Victims Research Center, University of South Carolina (1992).
  • David Lisak, Lori Gardinier, Sarah C. Nicksa, and Ashley M. Cote, “False Allegations of Sexual Assault: An Analysis of Ten Years of Reported Cases,” Violence Against Women 16(12) 1318-1334 (2010). doi: 10.1177/1077801210387747.