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Rape Myths

Rape myths are widely accepted, yet inaccurate beliefs about what constitutes rape and who we chose to believe is a “real” victim. Rape myths are dangerous because they justify the rapist’s behavior and shifts our attention and accountability onto the victim

Rape Myth: Rapists are strangers who lay in wait and overcome their victim through force or use of a weapon

Fact: up to 90% of rape survivors know their perpetrator

This myth is especially problematic because it confuses the victim about what has happened to them. Victims are often in such a state of trauma and disbelief that they are less likely to seek support services, medical attention or to report to law enforcement

Rape Myth: Men and boys can’t be raped.  If they were able to achieve an erection or ejaculated they must have been a willing participant and enjoyed it

Fact: Men and boys are the target of sexual violence almost as frequently as women and girls.  It is estimated that 1 in 6 boys will become the victim of some form of sexual violence by the time they are 18 years old.  It is also estimated that 1 in 4 men and boys will experience sexual violence within their lifetime. The body, very frequently can experience involuntary, physical reactions during a sexual assault. 

This myth is harmful to men and boys because most won’t seek services and many will suffer in silence.

Rape Myth: If a person is being raped they will scream and fight

Fact: Many victims report a state of temporary paralysis during their rape.  Often they describe it as feeling like they are in a nightmare where they can’t scream or run. 

This phenomenon is known as tonic immobility.  This occurs because our brain can perceive rape as a life threatening event.  When we experience life threatening events it is very common for our brain goes into survival mode.  It tells our body to prepare for death in the least painful way possible. So most of our blood flow is sent to our core to protect our vital organs. 

Additionally stress hormones causing the fight, flight or freeze response.  When a person experiences tonic immobility it is because of the level of stress hormones secreted, tonic immobility isn’t ‘playing dead’ because it isn’t a choice.



Additional Rape Myths 


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Last Updated: 8/2/16