August 2018 Project TableTalk Conversation Starter:
There are so many common myths that impact survivors – especially around what/who a survivor looks like. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the facts below:
What does domestic violence and/or sexual assault look like?
Myth: Domestic violence is always physical and/or visible.
Fact: Violence is not always apparent or visible. It can involve mental, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse. Check out National Hotline for Domestic Violence for more signs and information on all types of abuse or this past FDL Says No More post.
Myth: Sexual assault is an act of lust and passion that can’t be controlled.
Fact: Sexual assault is about power and control and is not motivated by sexual gratification.
Myth: If a victim of sexual assault does not fight back, they must have thought the assault was not that bad or they wanted it.
Fact: Many survivors experience tonic immobility or a “freeze response” during an assault where they physically cannot move or speak.
Myth: A person cannot sexually assault their partner or spouse.
Fact: Nearly 1 in 10 women have experienced rape by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Who is impacted by domestic violence and/or sexual assault? What does a survivor look like?
Myth: Men are not victims.
Fact: Abuse happens to boys & men too. 1 in 6 males will be a victim of sexual abuse before age 18. 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Men are often reluctant to report domestic violence because of the masculinity standards our society has created. They also face the same fears as a woman trying to leave an abusive relationships: shame, fear, lack of resources, denial, and children are just a few reasons people can’t “just leave”.
Myth: Abuse is less harmful to boys than girls.
Fact: Long-term effects of sexual abuse are damaging for both males and females. Many boys suffer harm because adults who could believe them are reluctant or refuse to
acknowledge what happened.
Myth: Males who are sexually abused by females “got lucky.”
Fact: This myth is supported by the idea of masculinity that boys learn early on. We need to focus on the abusive aspect of sexual abuse, not the sexual aspect. Premature, coerced, and otherwise abusive and exploitive sexual experiences are NEVER positive.
Myth: Wearing revealing clothing, behaving provocatively, or drinking a lot means the victim was “asking for it”.
Fact: The perpetrator selects the victim- the victim’s behavior or clothing choices do not mean that they are consenting to sexual activity.
Myth: It’s mainly a ‘straight’ issue and does not occur often in LGBTQ relationships.
Fact: Many people believe that only straight women can be victims, but domestic violence AND sexual assault occur in LGBTQ relationships at higher rates than in the general population. In 2017, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) reported 52 single-incident anti-LGBTQ homicides. 5 years prior in 2012, that number was 25.
In 2016, the NCAVP saw the highest total number of anti-LGBTQ homicides-77. This number includes the 49 lives taken during the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL.
- 44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35% of heterosexual women.
- 46% of bisexual women have been raped, compared to 17% of heterosexual women and 13% of lesbians.
- 40% of gay men and 47% of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape, compared to 21% of heterosexual men.
- The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.
LGBTQ survivors of sexual assault face an increased fear because of the discrimination they face regarding their identities. This often makes them hesitant to seek help from police, hospitals, shelters, or rape crisis centers. ASTOP is proud to be an LGBTQ Ally and will never discriminate against any victim seeking our services.
Myth: If a parent teaches a child to stay away from strangers they won’t get raped.
Fact: 60% of child sexual abuse cases are perpetrated by someone the child knows outside the family, and 30% are assaulted by family members.
Myth: People with disabilities are at low risk for abuse or assault.
Fact: People with disabilities are victims of sexual assault twice as much as people without disabilities. Sexual assault and domestic abuse of people with disabilities often goes unreported.
- Someone who needs regular assistance may rely on a person who is abusing them for care, a common factor in elder abuse. The perpetrator may use this power to threaten, coerce, or force someone into non-consensual sex or sexual activities.
- An abuser may take away access to the tools a person with a disability uses to communicate, such as a computer or phone.
- People with disabilities may be less likely to be taken seriously when they make a report of sexual assault or abuse.
How can assault and abuse be prevented?
Myth: There is nothing we can do to prevent domestic or sexual violence.
Fact: There are many ways you can help prevent sexual violence including intervening as a bystander to protect someone who may be at risk.
- Educate yourself about the topics at hand. Educate yourself about how to be an advocate, or an ally for of these victim groups.
- Know which resources are available in your community, and which ones are LGBTQ allies.
- Support friends who may be experiencing this. Listen, validate, and believe. Provide resources for them.
Sources and additional resources: