Our society holds many false ideas surrounding sexual assault and violence. These assumptions and stereotypes are harmful to victims and, often, can hinder the justice system in working the way it’s supposed to. Anyone – any age and any gender – can be a victim of sexual assault, and debunking myths around sexual assault and abuse can help ensure perpetrators of sex crimes are held accountable.
Sexual abuse and assault refers to an entire spectrum of sex crimes – rape, attempted rape, forced sexual contact, child sex abuse, and sexual harassment. If you have experienced sexual abuse, you may be feeling confused or anxious about what happened, and this is perfectly normal.
Understanding the truth about sexual assault can help you more effectively deal with your situation, and help you realize that you were the victim of a crime.
Common myths about sexual abuse
Unfortunately, many false ideas about sexual assault and abuse still persist in our society. These are just that – myths. Following are some of the most common myths and falsehoods about sexual assault.
- A person’s outfit or behavior is the reason for a sexual assault. Nobody’s clothes or actions can translate to a sexual invitation. Consent to sexual activity must be given verbally and explicitly, otherwise the perpetrator is committing an illegal act of assault.
- A person couldn’t have been assaulted if they don’t seem upset. Everyone reacts to trauma differently, and that includes sexual assault. Physical and mental trauma causes everyone to respond in a variety of ways, and all of them are valid.
- Allegations of sexual assault aren’t credible if not immediately reported to authorities. Again, because every victim may react differently, the time it takes to report an assault does not correlate to the validity of the claim. Often, victims don’t report an assault in a timely fashion due to fear of retaliation or that no one will believe them.
- An individual has no right to take action if they were under the influence when they were assaulted. Performing sexual acts on someone who is too intoxicated to consent is against the law and considered sexual assault.
- The assault wouldn’t have happened if the person had left the scene. Sexual assault has nothing to do with location and everything to do with the perpetrator. Victims can be assaulted at parties, at a hotel, or even in their own homes.
Who is legally liable for sexual assault?
In addition to authorities levying criminal charges, survivors of a sexual assault may have additional legal options for justice. Third parties can be held liable in some sexual violence cases. For example, if the perpetrator is a fellow student at the same university, the school may have failed to act in protecting the victim.
Or, if the victim and perpetrator are co-workers, the employer might be held liable for failing to conduct a proper background check on the offender. Certain laws and statutes of limitation exist for determining third-party liability, so it is crucial to consult with a Washington D.C., Maryland or West Virginia sexual assault attorney as soon as possible.
For more than 40 years, Barry J. Nace has worked to protect the rights of victims of medical malpractice and other personal injuries. Throughout his career, he has proven that multimillion-dollar awards are not a matter of luck, but the result of experience, hard work, outstanding trial skills, and an unquestioned dedication to justice. To date, Mr. Nace has produced dozens of verdicts and settlements in excess of $1 million with three in excess of $30 million. Read more about Barry J. Nace.