CSULA Student Health Center: Myths & Facts About Domestic and Sexual Violence

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An individual's attitudes and beliefs about domestic and sexual violence can influence whether or not that person: commits acts of violence; supports a friend, student, or colleague who has been abused; or seeks help for violent acts committed against her or him.

Common myths about domestic and sexual violence include:


It isn't rape if you have already started having sex before someone tells you to stop.

Fact: Sex without consent is a crime. According to California law, consent for sex can be withdrawn at any time, including after penetration.


Perpetrators are abusive in all of their relationships.

Fact: Some domestic violence perpetrators may be abusive to friends, family, coworkers, and others to varying degrees. Others may only abuse their partners and children. If a friend or family member discloses to you that she/he is being abused believe her/him and encourage her/him to get help. Don't automatically assume that because you "know" the identified perpetrator and you are unable to believe the person is capable of committing violence that it isn't happening.


If a woman or man is being abused their situation can't be all that bad if they stay in the relationship.

Fact: There are many reasons why a victim may stay in an abusive relationship. She or he may be afraid. They may feel ashamed even though what they are going through is not their fault. The victim may also be financially dependent on her or his abuser. While some victims are able to successfully leave their abusers, for others the process of leaving is extremely dangerous and can be deadly.


Rape is a spontaneous act of passion.

Fact: Rapes are committed to control, humiliate, and harm another person. Many are planned in advance and most are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. Passion, lust, and arousal may be present, but they are not uncontrollable urges.


If a victim does not say 'no' or does not 'fight back,' it is not sexual assault.

Fact: Sexual assault victims may not say "no" or not fight back for a variety of reasons including fear and confusion. Rape victims often report being "frozen" by fear during the assault, making them unable to fight back; other victims may not actively resist for fear of angering the assailant and causing him to use more force in the assault. Pressure to be liked and not be talked about negatively by a peer will sometimes cause adolescents or children to avoid fighting back or actively resisting.


Individuals with disabilities are not affected by domestic and sexual violence.

Fact: Physical and sexual assault, emotional abuse, neglect and other crimes are perpetrated against individuals with disabilities. Victimization rates for disabled adults are 4-10 times higher than those for individuals without disabilities. Children with disabilities are also victimized to a higher degree than children without disabilities.

The majority of the perpetrators of these crimes are male and known to the victims. Disabled persons are assaulted and abused by caregivers, healthcare workers, intimate partners, family members, and other individuals. Perpetrators are sometimes other disabled persons. These crimes usually occur in the victims' homes or in hospitals. Access to victim assistance resources, including law enforcement intervention and medical care, is often very limited for many disabled persons.


Men can’t be raped if they don’t want to be.

Fact: Any man can be sexually assaulted. It doesn’t matter who he is, how big or strong he is, or his sexual orientation. Some men are sexually assaulted by women. Most are raped by men. The majority of men who rape other men consider themselves heterosexual. They rape men to exert control and cause harm and humiliation.

Some men who are raped get an erection or ejaculate while being attacked. This reaction is a physiological response to physical contact or extreme stress. Although a perpetrator may try to convince a victim otherwise, getting an erection or ejaculating during a sexual assault or rape is not a sign of consent, pleasure, or sexual orientation.


Some girls and guys 'ask for it' by the way they act, dress, dance, or drink.

Fact: No woman or man does anything to “ask for” or deserve rape.


Women and men are more likely to be raped by a stranger than someone they know.

Fact: Men and women are more likely to to be sexually assaulted and raped by someone they know and often trust. In a national study that included an examination of first rape experiences female victims were raped by intimate partners (30%), family members (24%), and acquaintances (20%). Male victims were raped primarily by acquaintances (32%), family members (18%), and intimate partners (16%).


Stalking is a nuisance, but if you ignore it the stalker will quit.

Fact: A person may be stalked by someone they know or by a complete stranger. In either case, stalking is a serious threat to personal safety and typically escalates without intervention. Stalking episodes can last for years. In some cases stalkers kill their victims.


Additional Myths

Additional myths (and facts) are avaiable through:



Kully, J. (2000). For men only: for male survivors of sexual assault. The Counseling & Mental Health Center, University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved May 15, 2008, from http://www.utexas.edu/student/cmhc/booklets/maleassault/menassault.html

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (2008). Sexual violence. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 12, 2009, from http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/dvp/SV/SVDataSheet.pdf

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (2007). Victimization of persons with traumatic brain injury or other disabilities: a fact sheet for friends and families. Retrieved February 12, 2009, from http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/tbi/FactSheets/VictimizationTBI_FactSheet4FriendFam.htm

National Prevention Information Network (no date). Persons with disabilities. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 12, 2009, from http://www.cdcnpin.org/scripts/population/disable.asp#3

Office of the Attorney General (2007). Facts about sex offenders. California Department of Justice. Retrieved June 6, 2008, from http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/facts.aspx?lang=ENGLISH

Stalking Resource Center (no date). Stalking fact sheet. National Center for Victims of Crime. Retrieved January 7, 2008, from http://www.ncvc.org/src

Turning Point Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services for West Virginia (no date). Domestic violence myths and facts. Retrieved May 14, 2008, from http://www.turningpointservices.org