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  • Becca W.

What's the Truth About Sexual Assault?

Updated: Jun 5, 2019

Despite many individuals sharing their personal experience, extensive research and more media attention than ever on sexual assault and harassment, misconceptions still persist. These misconceptions can make it more challenging for people to report if they are sexually assaulted, may increase feelings of shame and make it difficult for people to receive the support they need to heal. By dispelling myths, you can be an ally to survivors and create a culture in which sexual assault is less likely to occur. In honor of April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, here are four myths about sexual assault, originally published by the BBC.

  1. Most sexual assaults are committed by strangers. In reality, 8 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Approximately 1 out of 3 of sexual assaults occur within intimate partnerships.

  2. A ‘real’ sexual assault survivor always reports immediately. Studies have suggested that only 1 out of 3 sexual assaults is reported at all, let alone immediately. People choose not to report for a variety of reasons. The hashtag #WhyIdidn’treport on twitter is a great place to begin to understand more.

  3. If assaults were reported immediately, it would be relatively easy to investigate and press charges. Last year, the Star Tribune released their nine-part series on Minnesota’s failure to investigate, prosecute and convict sexual abusers. Learn more HERE.

  4. If you didn’t ‘really’ want it, you’d fight back. The brain’s natural response to extreme fear is to flood the body with hormones. This impact one’s ability to think clearly, store or organize memories and for many people can cause tonic immobility. Tonic immobility refers to temporary paralysis, an extreme ‘freeze’ response. This kind of freeze response it automatic and not something the survivor chooses to do. People also may not fight back out of self-preservation.

Sojourner serves victims of domestic violence both in our shelter as well as through our community legal advocacy program. Sexual assault and coercion is a major factor in many abusive relationships and can be incredibly confusing and difficult. This month, we invite you to build your understanding of the truth of sexual assault and to be an educator in your community. To learn more about any of these misconceptions or to read the original authors post, visit the BBC Website.


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