The Misconception of Sexual Assault
By Gina Karst, Executive Director
Sexual assault is stereotypically thought and depicted in the media to happen in dark alleys to a young adult because of the type of clothing that were worn or that the person was intoxicated. It does not always occur to those less financially stable because sexual assault can happen to anyone anywhere at any time, usually by someone known to the victim. According to a 2005 study by the US Department of Justice 38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance, 28% are intimate, and 7% are a relative.
The misconception is that the victims ask for it by the way they are dressed; not by the way they were acting; not because the victim was drinking alcohol. No one wants to be touched without consent. Body language says a lot as a non-verbal form of communication. If a person has a negative response to your touches that may include crying, this is not a good sign, an indication that you should stop what you are doing.
“No Means No” was the old adage used to promote the awareness of ending sexual assault. This is largely challenged in our society to mean “maybe” or “I’ll think about it”. ‘No’ should not require an explanation behind it. “No, I can’t meet you tonight because I have to wash my hair”. Why can’t we just leave it at ‘No’? Another reason the word “No” doesn’t work when a person is being sexually violated, is that too often the victim is asked “did you fight back?”
Fight back!! As if lying there crying, attempting to push their perpetrator off wasn’t enough, the victim is to also kick and scream. Yes, in reality that would be one way to do it, but what if the victims were told that they or a member of their family would be killed if they fought back? What if the victims are scared out of their mind and in the case of crisis, cannot possibly figure out what would be the smartest move to make. It is hard for anyone to say exactly what a victim feels at the moment of violation.
Imagine having to tell a stranger the most intimate details of your last sexual experience. To tell that person the kind of clothing you were wearing throughout the event. What position you were in? Where were your hands or your partner’s hands? Did you speak to each other? What was said? What happened when it was done? Now imagine giving all those details to a stranger after you were raped. How much do you think you will remember exactly? How much would you be in fear that who you are telling believes you?
Sexual assaults are one of the most under reported crimes in America, 68% are not reported to police. Please visit www.rainn.org to learn more or visit Safe Harbor’s website www.safeharborsd.org. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted call Safe Harbor at 605-226-1212 or the National Hotline 800-656-HOPE (4673).