Sexual assault is a crime of violence, not sexual passion. It is meant to degrade, humiliate, and control. The attacker can be a stranger or someone known and trusted. It can happen to anyone, at any time, at any place. The trauma of being assaulted is a shock from which many victims never fully recover.
No matter which form it takes, sexual assault is as much a problem today as it has been throughout history. While those most at risk are people between the ages of 10 and 29, it can happen to anyone at any age.
There is no portrait of a "typical" rapist. These men, like their victims, are all ages and come from all racial and social backgrounds. They can be college students, married men, doctors, teachers, or unemployed transients. Most are not crazy or deranged men looking for sex. In fact the majority of offenders are highly intelligent, married men with families and have ready access to consensual sex; but they rape to control, dominate, and humiliate the victim.
Here are some Myths and Facts about sexual assaults.
MYTH: Sexual assault is a crime of passion and lust.
FACT: Sexual assault is a crime of violence. Assailants seek to dominate, humiliate and punish their victims.
MYTH: You cannot be assaulted against your will.
FACT: Assailants overpower their victim with the threat of violence or with actual violence. In cases of acquaintance rape or incest, an assailant often uses the victim's trust of the assailant to isolate the victim.
MYTH: A person who has really been assaulted will be hysterical.
FACT: Survivors exhibit a spectrum of emotional responses to the assault: calm, hysteria, laughter, guilt, apathy, shock. Each survivor copes with the trauma of the assault in a different way.
MYTH: Sexual assault is an impulsive act.
FACT: Seventy-five (75%) percent of all assaults are planned in advance. When three or more assailants are involved, 90% are planned. If two assailants are involved, 83%. With one assailant, 58% are planned.
MYTH: Assailants are usually crazed psychopaths who do not know their victims.
FACT: As many as 80% of all assaults involve either a known acquaintance, or someone the victim has had contact with, but does not know personally.
MYTH: Gang rape is rare.
FACT: In 43% of all reported cases, more than one assailant was involved.
MYTH: Many women claim they have been sexually assaulted because they want revenge upon the man they accuse.
FACT: Only 4% - 6% of sexual assault cases are based on false accusations. This percentage of unsubstantiated cases is the same as with many other reported crimes.
MYTH: Persons who dress or act in a sexy way are asking to be sexually assaulted.
FACT: Many convicted sexual assault assailants are unable to remember what their victims looked like or were wearing.
MYTH: All women secretly want to be raped.
FACT: While women and men may fantasize about being overpowered during sexual relations, it is usually with a person of their choosing, who they trust. They are in control of the fantasy. No one wants the physical and emotional pain caused by a sexual assault.
MYTH: Only young, pretty women are assaulted.
FACT: There is no such thing as a "typical victim." Both men and women are assaulted by both male and female assailants. Victims have ranged in age from newborns to 100 years old.
MYTH: It is impossible to sexually assault a man.
FACT: Men fall victim for the same reasons as women; they are overwhelmed by threats or acts of physical and emotional violence. Also, most sexual assaults that involve a male victim are gang assaults, by other males.
MYTH: If you do not struggle or use physical force to resist you have not been sexually assaulted.
FACT: If you are forced to have sex without your consent, you have been assaulted whether or not a struggle was involved.
The information listed below provides suggestions on how to possibly avoid dangerous situations, and ways to resist if threatened or attacked. They are not a guarantee that you will never be a victim of an sexual assault, attack, and as a result of this, and injury. They are intended to reduce opportunity for a crime to be committed.
While statistics say that most sexual assaults are premeditated, in some instances it is a "crime of opportunity," such as a date rape. The victim and offender, for whatever reason, are at the same place at the same time. Whether the assault is one of opportunity or premeditation, there are simple precautions a person can follow to reduce, avoid, and even eliminate their chances of becoming a victim.
If you are a victim of sexual assault in New Orleans you can get help from the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office or call the Victims Services Division at 504-827-7225. The District Attorney's office provides assistance with the criminal justice system, courtroom advocacy, referrals, information, crisis counseling, long term individual counseling and group counseling for adults and all services are free and confidential. For victims under the age of 18 you can contact the Childrens Bureau at 504-525-2366.
Be aware of the current offenders in your area.