Sexual assault is an act of violence, not sex. Period! This is an important distinction because by framing sexualized violence as about sex and not about violence we focus on the perpetrator’s narrative and not the survivor’s. Can we hear someone say amen!
Focusing on the perpetrator’s narrative leads society to blame the victim and to not hold the perpetrator accountable for their actions. Remember, sexual assault happens because perpetrators exert power over the survivor to take away any control the survivor has in choosing whether or not to engage in a sexual situation. Thus, sexual assault is not sex to the survivor – it is an act of violence.
Misconceptions on sexual assault linking this form of violence to sexually repressed societies still ties the crime to uncontrollable sexual desire which is not true. People don’t commit sexual assault because they don’t have enough sexual opportunities. People commit sexual assault because they feel entitled to other people’s bodies and disregard other people’s right to consent.
Wrong! Most people who have never been victims of rape think that if they ever found themselves in the horrid situation of being attacked by a sexual predator, they’d fight back. We assume our survival instincts will kick in.
But if you listen to the experiences of rape victims, it becomes clear that it’s not that simple – many women (for it is nearly always women) find themselves seemingly paralyzed, incapable of trying to defend themselves against their attacker. The majority of rape victims find themselves involuntarily unable to move, which “blocks” physical resistance. This is not a sign of consent on the victim’s part.
It’s important to remember that each individual’s personal reaction is the first step in a long path toward justice and healing for the survivor. Knowing how to respond is critical—a negative response to victims of sexual assault can worsen the trauma and foster an environment where perpetrators face zero consequences for their crimes and victims retaliate into a web of silence and fail to report these crimes.
We must do away with common misconceptions about sexual assault because victims live in silence due to the victim blaming they face after they are sexually assaulted.