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What is Sexual Violence?

Anytime a person forces, coerces, or manipulates another person into unwanted or harmful sexual activity, he or she has committed sexual violence. Consent is the critical issue; all the people involved must consent, or agree to be a part of the activity.

Consent has two parts: (1) an actual expression of agreement (2) by someone legally competent to give consent (i.e., not under age 16, intoxicated, or otherwise legally deemed incapable of consent – see below). Silence is not consent. Sometimes victims are too scared, disoriented, or shocked to fight back or say no.

Sexual violence is perpetrated in many forms, including attacks (such as forcible rape), intimate contact without consent (such as child molestation, sex with an intoxicated person, or groping), and non-physical aggression (such as stalking, verbal coercion, or harassment). Definitions of particular forms of sexual violence are often based on criminal law. As these vary by state, definitions used within this site are based on the Kentucky Revised Statutes or KRS.



Truths and Myths about Sexual Violence


The Victim

Myth: Most women want to be raped and "ask for it" by the way they dress, act or by "being in the wrong place, like parties."

Truth: This attitude shifts blame from the offender to the victim. Women have the right to dress and act in any manner that they choose. They also have the right to go anywhere they want without the repercussion of being blamed. No one deserves to be assaulted for any reason.


Myth: If someone engages in any sexual contact they are giving consent for sex. If she says no, or if she says nothing at all she probably means yes.

Truth: No always means No. Adults have the right to engage in sexual contact until the point they feel uncomfortable or decide to stop. Any sexual contact with a child is sexual assault. Silence is NOT consent.


Myth: Men cannot be raped.

Truth: 13% of all reported rapes are against male victims. One in six boys is raped before the age of 18.


The Offender

Myth: Most rapes are by strangers.

Truth: 80% of rapes are by someone the victim knows. Acquaintance rape is extremely unreported.


Myth: Men who rape other men are homosexual.

Truth: Rape is about power and control over another person regardless of gender, age or sexual orientation.


Myth: Most rapists are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Truth: Only 30% of rapists report being intoxicated during the planning of or the act of a rape.


The Assault

Myth: Rape is motivated by sexual gratification.

Truth: Rape and sexual assault are about power and control, not sex. Rapists have a desire to dominate, humiliate and degrade their victims through the use of physical violence and intimidation.


Myth: Husbands cannot rape their wives.

Truths: Any sexual activity that is not consensual takes choice away from the victim. This is the very definition of sexual assault.


Myth: Sexual assaults occur in dark alleys or isolated parking lots.

Truth: A surprisingly high number of assaults occur in places ordinarily thought safe, such as homes, cars and offices. Women tend to avoid stereotypically dangerous locations and situations such as dark alleys and isolated areas; often a rapist will move their victim to a location which will reduce the chance of being interrupted or apprehended such as homes, cars or offices.


Myth: Most rapes are reported.

Truth: Only about 20% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to police. Therefore, for every rape you hear about, statistically, at least eight more occurred.


Myth: Sexual assaults are usually unplanned, spontaneous and crimes of opportunity.

Truth: Most sexual assaults are planned in advance, while the act is premeditated the specific victim tends to be chosen based on availability and vulnerability.