Skip to content

Health & Balance

Myths That Put Women at Risk

Font Size
A
A
A

WebMD Feature

March 27, 2000 (Berkeley, Calif.) -- Most sexual assaults simply don't fit any stereotype. Among the most common misconceptions are these:

  • Most women are raped by strangers. Justice Department statistics indicate that fewer than 25% of rape victims are assaulted by a person they do not know. Other studies indicate an even lower percentage.
  • Most rapes affect adult women. Rape is a crime that primarily affects women during childhood and adolescence. Of the estimated 12.1 million American women who have been raped, nearly 30% were assaulted when they were younger than 11 years old. Another 32% of women were raped between the ages of 11 and 17, and 22% more were raped between the ages of 18 and 24. Only 6% of rapes occurred in women over the age of 29.
  • Only women are raped. While they certainly happen much less frequently, male-to-male and female-to-male rapes do occur and are no less traumatic to those men who are assaulted.
  • Most rapists only rape once. In fact, most rapists are recidivists -- a compelling reason to find ways to encourage victims to report assaults and to pursue the rights and remedies available to them.
  • Sexual assault is a crime of passion and lust. Sexual assault has nothing to do with passion; rather it uses power and control to dominate and humiliate victims of both sexes.
  • Most rapists are "dirty old men." Fifty percent of rapists are between the ages of 15 and 24 years old.
  • Sexual assault is a spontaneous, impulsive act. Studies consistently conclude that 75% of all assaults are planned. When three or more assailants are involved, the number climbs to 90%.
  • Most rapes are committed against white women by men of color. The National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence found that 90% of all rapes occur between people of the same ethnic or racial background. In a majority of the 10% of rapes that are interracial, white men rape black women.
  • There are many phony rape reports. Women rarely lie about rape. The FBI reports that false accusations account for only 2% of all reported sexual assaults, a number that is no higher than false reports of any other crime. A National Victim Center Study of l992 confirms this percentage.
  • It can't happen to me. Rape is the most frequently committed violent crime in America.

Jolie Ann Bales is an attorney based in Berkeley, Calif. She has written for a number of legal and business publications.

Today on WebMD

woman in yoga class
6 health benefits of yoga.
beautiful girl lying down of grass
10 relaxation techniques to try.
 
mature woman with glass of water
Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
coffee beans in shape of mug
Get the facts.
 
jet plane landing at sunset
Slideshow
poinsettias
Quiz
 
Hungover man
Slideshow
Welcome mat and wellington boots
Slideshow
 
Woman worn out on couch
Article
Happy and sad faces
Quiz
 
Fingertip with string tied in a bow
Article
laughing family
Quiz