The Family Place
The Family Place provides support services to families in northern Utah and southern Idaho, including individual and group therapy for survivors of sexual assault. Our specially trained staff provide trauma-informed services for survivors. As trained sexual assault advocates, we provide crisis support and individual advocacy. In trying to help, we often run up against sexual assault myths that make our job difficult.
What Are Sexual Assault Myths?
Unfortunately, there are many pervasive and insidious beliefs about sexual assault. These myths often create a hostile environment for survivors, blaming survivors for the crimes committed against them. Cultural assumptions about sex and sexuality help spread many myths. Gender roles and expectations frequently reinforce them.
There are many reasons why these myths are so damaging. They can seriously hinder a person’s recovery, and they can prevent survivors from reporting crimes due to fear of stigmatization. That’s why it’s so important for us to be aware of myths. To that end, let’s discuss and dispel the most prevalent myths.
1. MYTH: Most Sexual Assaults Are Committed By Strangers in Dark Alleys
Many believe that sexual assaults primarily occur in dark alleys. They imagine the attacker coming out of the shadows with a knife to go after someone who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. In truth, sexual assault is most often committed by someone the survivor knew. Statistics show that 50% of sexual assaults happen in the survivor’s home and 50% of sexual assaults occur during the day. It is a premeditated crime, rarely committed at random. We use the term “sexual predator” because it describes the behavior of targeting, stalking, and attacking victims when they are vulnerable and least expecting it.
2. MYTH: Men Can’t Be Sexually Assaulted
The truth is that men and women are both sexually assaulted. Somewhere between one in six and one in ten men are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetimes. The pervasive false belief that men always desire sex fuels this myth. Often, those around the victims downplay the trauma male sexual assault survivors experience. Many also disbelieve their claims. Because of this myth and the stigma surrounding it, many men fear reporting sexual assault and avoid seeking support, such as through therapy.
3. MYTH: Sexual Assault Traumatizes Men and Boys Less
Gender plays no role in levels of traumatization. In all genders, victims of sexual assault often report feelings of anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, low self-esteem, and poor body image. They may experience isolation, sleep disturbances, nightmares, eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, and more. Sexual assault always traumatizes its victims.
4. MYTH: Your Spouse Can’t Sexually Assault You
Many people find it hard to imagine a married person sexually assaulting their spouse, but sexual assault isn’t about love or intimacy. It’s about having power over another. Spousal sexual assault often occurs as an attempt to punish a spouse. It may also be an attempt to degrade their spouse as a means of enforcing control over their lives. Whatever the reason, if there is no consent, it is sexual assault, regardless of marital status.
5. MYTH: If A Person Changes Their Mind During Intercourse, It’s Not Sexual Assault
Every person has the right to withdraw their consent for sexual activity at any time. Once a person withdraws consent, the other party must immediately stop engaging in sexual activity. If they continue after their partner withdraws consent, that person committed sexual assault. Partners are responsible for respecting those wishes. No means no, no matter when someone says it.
We’re Here To Help
The Family Place understands that sexual assault is a complex and significant challenge for survivors. We provide non-judgmental spaces where survivors can work with a therapist to ask any questions that they have. We help victims process their feelings and develop coping skills to help them heal from the trauma. Our therapists have experience working with survivors of sexual assault and are ready to provide help and comfort. With The Family Place, you don’t have to be afraid. We’re here to help you.
For more information about our sexual assault services, please contact The Family Place at 435-752-8880, or use our contact form.