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Sexual and Interpersonal Wellness

Myths and Facts

Myth: Only heterosexual, cisgender women experience sexual assault. 

Fact: Studies show that sexual assault happens to people of all ages, genders, ethnic/racial backgrounds, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic backgrounds. This means that someone of any gender, including men and non-binary individuals, and any sexual orientation both experience and perpetrate sexual assault and harassment. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals actually report higher rates of their heterosexual counterparts, as do transgender individuals in comparison to their cisgender counterparts. 

Myth: If a person is flirting, drinking, or dressing a certain way, they are "asking for it."

Fact: The only person who is responsible for sexual assault is the person who committed it. Sexual assault is not about attraction, it is about power and control. Dress, alcohol/drug use, flirting, partying, dating, and accepting an invitation to someone's apartment/dorm are never invitations for unwanted sexual activity. 

Myth: Someone can only be sexually assaulted if there is physical force or if a weapon is involved.

Fact: In many cases, a weapon is not involved. There are physical injuries in only about one-third of all reported cases of rape. Physical force is not always present in experiences of sexual assault, because people can be guilt-tripped, coerced, or verbally pressured or threatened into sexual acts. 

Myth: Most sexual assaults are committed by strangers.

Fact: More than 75 percent of reported rapes are between people that know each other. This includes partners, spouses, classmates, neighbors, relatives, and coworkers.

Myth: If the assailant, the victim, or both are drunk, then it isn't sexual assault. 

Fact: Committing sexual acts with someone who is too drunk to give consent is sexual assault. Alcohol does not excuse sexual assault or other forms of interpersonal harm. If someone has been drinking and is unable to get consent, or unsure they are getting consent, they must stop. Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in instances of sexual assault, and the majority on sexual assaults on college campuses do involve alcohol consumption. 

Myth: If someone said "yes" at the beginning of the interaction, it is fully consensual. 

Fact: Individuals engaging in sexual activity must consent at the beginning and throughout an interation. Someone can change their mind and say “no” (revoke consent) at ANY time, for ANY reason. Consent is reversible. It is not a binding contract or soldified agreement. It is the responsibility of each person engaging in sexual activity to be communicating about consent from the beginning to end of the experience. 

Myth: Sexual assault doesn't happen in a relationship, and consent can be assumed if you've had sexual activity with the same person in the past. 

Fact: All individuals have bodily autonomy, the right to decide what happens to their body. You don't owe your partner anything, especially not sex or your body. If someone does not want to have sex -- regardless of whether or not they are in a relationship, have had sex before, are married, etc. -- it is her or his decision and it must be respected. All 50 states now have laws against rape in marriage.

Myth: Women report rapes to get even with men or to protect their reputations.

Fact: According to studies and data shared by the FBI, only two to four percent of reported rapes are false—the same percentage as the false reporting of other crimes. 

Myth: The best way to deal with a sexual assault is to try to move on quickly. 

Fact: Speaking out about the sexual assault can be a big part of the healing process. It can be helpful to process any feelings of confusion, shame, fear, or guilt that commonly follow a sexual assault. It isn't always easy, but talking to people you trust about your experience and feeling can be a very important therapeutic step.