This Sexual Violence Myth Questionnaire is used with permission from the following source:

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1 This Sexual Violence Myth Questionnaire is used with permission from the following source: B. Huston, M. Jones, D. McKee, J. Moyer, L. Verost (2003); Working Toward Equitable Adjudication of Violence Against Women Cases; A Judicial Affairs Curriculum. The Pennsylvania State University, Division of Student Affairs. There is a typical rapist. There is a typical rape victim. Myth or Reality? If the victim was drunk or high then she was responsible for the rape. If she s wearing skimpy or sexy clothing, then she s asking for it. Women falsely report rape. Rape is an impulsive act of sexual gratification. The victims of sexual violence are usually Caucasian; the offenders are usually African-American. Rape doesn t happen very often. It can t happen to me or someone I know. A woman can prevent rape is she really wants to. Rape is a woman s problem. Victims will get over it. Women in violent relationships must like the abuse or else they would leave. Rapes occur in dark, deserted streets or alleys. Women give tacit (silent) consent. Rape victims have typical responses. Violent relationships only happen in marriages. A relationship is not abusive if there is no physical abuse.

2 Stalking always happens by someone the victim knows. Stalking behavior is bothersome, but not threatening. Victims of stalking are generally not affected by the stalking. You guessed it! Every single one of the above statements is a MYTH. Please see Handout 3-2 for explanations.

3 A. Myth: There is a typical rapist. Myth or Reality Answers Reality: There is no typical rapist. Anyone can be a rapist. Nothing about someone s appearance spells rapist. While there are some red flags with behaviors, especially with acquaintance rape, most women and girls have not been taught to recognize them. Most rapists appear to be regular guys. B. Myth: There is a typical rape victim. Reality: There is no typical victim. Anyone can be a victim of rape regardless of gender, age, race, socioeconomic status, appearance, education, sexual orientation, or reputation. There is no way to predict which women are likely to be selected as victims. A rape victim is like any other victim. In a robbery, the robber looks for someone who is accessible. In a rape situation, any person who appears accessible and/or vulnerable can be subject to attack. Individuals with mental and or physical disabilities are especially vulnerable to such an attack. C. Myth: If the victim was drunk or high, then she was responsible for the rape Reality: The perpetrator is always the one responsible for rape. How many of you consider that you might be sexually assaulted if you drink? Blaming the victim because she was drunk is like blaming a robbery victim for having money in his/her wallet. She may be responsible for the consequences of drinking -- getting in trouble if she s underage, or feeling sick or hung-over the next day. However, she is not responsible for someone else s decision to assault her while she was intoxicated or unconscious. Using poor judgment does not equal deserving to be raped. No one asks to be raped, just as no one asks to be robbed. D. Myth: If she s wearing skimpy or sexy clothing, then she s asking for it. Reality: Wearing certain fashions does not mean that a woman, or young girl, is asking for sex. Often she is following the styles of the day. Fashion magazines, movies, videos, and television present women as being attractive in certain clothing. Because a woman may dress in a way she feels is attractive does not mean that she is agreeing to have sex with anyone who finds her sexy. Dressing a particular way does not give anyone the justification to rape. E. Myth: Women falsely report rape. Reality: False reports for rape are extremely low. The FBI states that false reports of all reported rapes are between 3-5%. If 3-5% of reported rapes are false, then 95-97% are true. Also, just because a report is ruled unfounded does not mean that it was a false report. F. Myth: Rape is an impulsive act of sexual gratification.

4 Reality: Rape is not the aggressive expression of sexual desire, it is aggression expressed in a sexual manner. The purpose of rape is to degrade, control, and overpower another person. Rape is not someone lusting over a seductive, sexy woman. Any kind of sexual assault is a violent crime of power and control. G. Myth: The victims of sexual violence are usually white; the offenders are usually black. Reality: 90% of all sexual violence occurs within racial groups. Cross-racial rapes are relatively rare occurrences, despite the widely held belief to the contrary. (Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape) H. Myth: Rapes occur in dark, deserted streets or alleys. Reality: Most rapes and sexual assaults occur in the victim s residence. According to the Sexual Victimization of College Women study (2000), the majority of sexual victimizations, especially rapes and physically coerced sexual contact, occurred in living quarters. Almost 60% of the completed rapes that took place on campus took place in the victim s residence, 31% occurred in other living quarters on campus, and 10.3 % took place in a fraternity. Off-campus victimizations, especially rapes, also occurred in residences. However, particularly for sexual contacts and threatened victimizations, incidents also took place in settings such as bars, dance clubs or nightclubs, and work settings. (Source - The Sexual Victimization of College Women) I. Myth: Women give tacit (silent) consent. Reality: Conceding is not the same as consenting. If a victim does not fight back or actively resist, the myth states that she must have given tacit, or silent, consent. Rapists will argue, she really wanted it. The truth is that anyone placed in a threatening situation can be paralyzed by fear. Victims often feel that their lives are in danger. In cases of acquaintance rape, the victim may recognize the futility of physical resistance. Conceding is the most common response to rape attempts. Also, not fighting back is a well-ingrained female tradition. Women are raised to be peaceful and compliant rather than aggressive and physical. Many women have never struck anyone, in anger or in play, and they are afraid to start with someone who is bigger, stronger, and acting violent and abusive. The man simply using the weight of his body to hold the woman down accomplishes many acquaintance rapes. J. Myth: Rape victims have typical responses. Reality: There is no typical victim, no typical rape, and no typical response to rape. In the courtroom, defense attorneys will say that a prompt report to police is what one would expect in response to a crime like rape. In fact, an immediate outcry is not what usually happens. For the victim, the period following the rape is an emotionally charged, confusing, and extremely anxious time. See Module Five for further reasons why victims do not report. K. Myth: Rape doesn t happen very often. Reality: Rape is the most frequently committed violence crime in the United States. The FBI estimates that 1 in 3 women will be raped sometime during her life. In rapes occurred every minute

5 (National Victim Center, 1992). According to a major study conducted on college campuses by Dr. Mary Koss, 1 out of every 8 women had experienced rape during her college years, and 1 out of 4 was the victim of an attempted sexual assault (1985). L. Myth: It can t happen to me or to someone I know. Reality: Rape victims come from all socio-economic classes and ethnic backgrounds and range in age from 3 months to 97 years million U.S. women have been raped, more than half before they were 18 years old. Men and boys can be victims too. However, the majority of rape victims are women between the ages of 16 and 24 (National Victim Center, 1992) M. Myth: A woman can prevent rape if she really wants to. Reality: The threat of violence, the use of force to overpower, physical brutality, and the fear of death can immobilize anyone. It is very difficult for a victim to stop a rape. N. Myth: Rape is a woman s problem. Reality: Rape is everyone s problem. It affects everyone in our society; not only the individuals who are victimized, his or her relatives and friends. Rape is the result of a culture that promotes male dominance and defines women by their sexuality. O. Myth: Victims Will Get Over It Reality: Rape changes a victim s life forever. She will never be the same as she was before the assault, and she will never completely get over it. She will be able to go from identifying as a victim to a survivor, but the rape will impact the rest of her life. Many victims have described the impact of the rape as: He did not kill me, but he did kill the person I was. P. Myth: Women in violent relationships must like the abuse or else they would leave. Reality: Abusive relationships are extremely difficult to leave. Many different dynamics come into play when someone is trying to leave a violent relationship. They may be in fear of further or greater harm of abuse once they leave the relationship. They may feel that they can better protect their children if they stay in the relationship. A woman may even be convinced that she is the cause of the abuse and that if she changes the abuse will end. No one enjoys being abused. Q. Myth: A relationship is not abusive if there is no physical abuse.

6 Reality: Many women in abusive relationships have said that the emotional abuse was just as hurtful or more painful than the physical abuse. In abusive relationships, the abuser gains power and control over the victim. They get and maintain this control by physical or sexual violence, or the threat of physical or sexual violence. In some relationships, the threat of violence is enough for the abuser to keep control, he may only resort to physical violence if he thinks that she may try and leave the relationship. R. Myth: Violent relationships only happen in marriages. Reality: An abusive or violent relationship can happen to anyone at any age. Domestic and relationship violence can begin when adolescents start dating. Relationship violence among adolescents and teenagers exists and can include physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Dating relationships that are violent will turn into marriages that are violent. Relationship violence also happens in gay and lesbian couples. Child abuse and elder abuse are two other kinds of domestic/relationship violence. S. Myth: Stalking always happens with someone the victim knows. Reality: Stalking occurs in a variety of circumstances and between persons who have various relationships. These can generally be characterized in one of three ways: intimates (or former intimates), acquaintances, or strangers. On college campuses, most stalking behaviors are directed to someone the stalker knows, or recognizes. (Campus Stalking, CALCASA, July 2002) T. Myth: Stalking behavior is bothersome, but not threatening. Reality: Every case of stalking must be considered as potentially dangerous. Early intervention is critical. If not confronted early, the stalker may soon cross the line into criminal activity by engaging in threatening behavior that brings psychological and potential physical harm to the victim. Stalkers are motivated by obsession and a desire for control, which stem from either a real or imagined relationship with the victim. (CALCASA) U. Myth: Victims of stalking are generally not affected by the stalking. Reality: Stalking often causes pervasive, intense fear and can be extremely disruptive for the victim. In addition to presenting a continual threat of physical and/or sexual violence, the stalker can erode the victim s sense of safety and personal control. Victims many times do not know what to do to stop the stalker s behavior. In addition, the effects of stalking are often minimized by the victim as well as by others who have knowledge of the behavior, allowing the harm to increase before steps are taken to rectify the situation. (CALCASA).

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