There are plenty of sexual assault myths floating around. These myths make it difficult to understand these crimes, and make it harder for victims to fight back. By understanding the truth behind sexual assault, you can become empowered to stop this growing problem.
One of the most prevalent is the belief that sexual assault is somehow the result of the victim’s own actions. Say, for instance, that a woman is told that if she didn’t want sexual attention then she shouldn’t wear short skirts. This implies that a sexual assault incident was herfault because of the clothing she chooses to wear. In reality, this is not true. Any sexual act that is not reciprocated by the victim is considered sexual assault and is illegal. Even if a victim is sending mixed signals, “no” should be enough to stop any further actions.
Another myth is that rape is purely an act of lust. Although rape may seem like a sexual act, it is essentially a violent act that enables one to feel power and exercise hatred by forcing an individual to succumb to the attacker’s control. The sexual act itself is typically a means to degrade and embarrass their victim, resulting in a power high for the attacker. The most common reason why sexual predators commit rape is to satisfy the urges of power, control, and excitement, and also to feel more masculine.
It may, however, be reasonable to claim that rape is a passionate crime. We often tend to think of passion as being solely in relation to love, but passion has many definitions, one of them describing the emotion as violent hatred or anger. Because of the multiple definitions of “passion,” it is unfortunately easy for people to romanticize what is actually a violent act of hatred.
Another myth is that you can easily “spot” a sexual predator. We hear that common characteristics to look out for include shifty eyes or a reclusive, sneaky demeanor. We have been told that angry-looking men should be avoided, and even those who appear dirty. This myth has likely stemmed from the need to comfort ourselves by thinking that we have the power to avoid all sexual predators. In actuality, statistics show that most sexual offenders are well-known within their neighborhood or active in the community. They often appear quite helpful and caring. It is important to keep your guard up, especially if you find yourself approaching a situation where you could end up alone with him, whether you are stopping to help someone with a flat tire or someone offers to help you repair something in your home. Your intuition may pick up on things that make you inexplicably uneasy. Trust these feelings and be prepared to find a way out of the situation.
The consequences of rape aren’t over once the perpetrator has been caught. Women who have been raped often suffer from the encounter for the rest of their lives, reliving the incident through their dreams and constantly feeling paranoid around strange men. Constant feelings of humiliation, anger, and even guilt can lead to psychological issues that could take years of counseling to overcome. The best way to avoid a sexual encounter is to stay on your guard, remain aware of your surroundings, and carry a self defense device such as pepper spray or a stun gun to protect yourself.
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