Personal Injury

7 Common Myths About Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse refers to any situation where some type of sexual act or behavior is forced upon someone without their consent. Types of sexual abuse include rape, indecent exposure, grooming, and inappropriate touching. 

Unfortunately, there are a large number of myths that are still being told and even taught about this complex topic. In this article, we’ll debunk seven of the most common myths surrounding sexual abuse.

Myth #1: Strangers Are Always the Perpetrators

Many people assume that sexual abuse often comes down to a random act of violence from a stranger, but this is actually rarely the case. When it comes to reported acts of sexual violence, a massive eight out of 10 rapes are actually committed by someone that the victim knows. In fact, only 19.5% of all reported rapes are committed by a stranger.

Myth #2: Waiting to Speak Up Means You Didn’t Care

Perhaps the most frustrating myth about sexual abuse has to do with the idea that if a survivor waits to come forward, especially if many years have gone by since the incident, they “didn’t regret it” or “it wasn’t actually rape.”

In point of fact, the majority of sexual assaults never get reported to the police at all. Only about 310 out of every 1,000 incidents are reported according to RAINN. 28% of people wait or don’t report to protect their households, 20% fear retaliation, and 13% believe that the police wouldn’t actually be of much help.

Additionally, even remembering the event in the detail needed to file a report could be incredibly triggering to a sexual abuse victim. When you also consider the fact that 975 perpetrators out of every 1,000 instances of sexual assault face little to no punishment, it’s easy to see why someone’s instinct may be to hesitate when reporting.

Myth #3: Seeking Help Is Not Worth It

Unfortunately, people often think that if they have experienced sexual abuse, seeking help will be a) expensive, and b) ultimately not worth it.

However, there are many free resources that survivors can use in their time of need. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, the 24/7 National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-4673) and RAINN’s confidential online support chat ( There are also 43 sexual assault help centers in Michigan alone that offer services, either for free, or at a reduced cost, to victims.

Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys is another resource that offers 100% free and totally confidential case evaluations. We only earn a fee for our legal services in the event that you have a financial recovery in your case. The laws addressing sexual abuse can be complicated, which is why it’s important to seek legal help as soon as possible. 

For more information about when to call a personal injury attorney, please view this article.

Myth #4: It’s Not Sexual Abuse if Drugs or Alcohol Are Involved

When someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are often not in control of their actions or body. This means that, in a sexual situation, you cannot give consent. This is why it can readily be sexual abuse, even if drugs or alcohol are involved.

Likewise, the use of drugs and alcohol can often inhibit a person from remembering events that have taken place, creating another problematic layer to the situation.

Along the same lines, in Michigan the age of consent is 16. However, if the person in question is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, “consent” may be considered invalid.

Myth #5: You Can Prevent Assault by Avoiding Public Places

In instances of sexual abuse, there is sometimes a phenomenon known as “victim blaming.”  Essentially, people hear the details and think “well, if you hadn’t done that, you would have been okay.”

Victim blaming often arises where the victim is a woman who went out socializing, working out, running, etc., in public and alone and is then sexually abused or assaulted. However, it’s critical to note that sexual assault mostly occurs near the victim’s house. According to RAINN, about 55% of all reported sexual assaults occur at or near the victim’s home. Only about 10% happen in enclosed public areas. Likewise, 48% of survivors were either sleeping or doing something else at home when the assault occurred.

Myth #6: Men Cannot Experience Sexual Abuse

Another prevailing myth about sexual abuse is that men, solely based on their gender, cannot be victims of sexual abuse. While it’s true that 90% of adult rape victims are female, men can absolutely experience sexual abuse in their lives. In fact, in the United States alone, there are 2.78 million men who have reported attempted or completed rape—meaning that at least one out of every 10 rape victims is male.

Myth #7: If It’s Not Rape, It’s Not Sexual Abuse

Last, but certainly not least, one of the most astonishing myths is that sexual abuse is only referencing rape. This is simply not true. As we covered earlier, sexual abuse is defined as “any sexual act or behavior forced upon someone without their consent.” In reality, stalking, sexual exploitation by a person of power, harassment, and rape are all considered forms of sexual abuse. 

If rape isn’t involved, that doesn’t mean that the situation wasn’t traumatizing or that it doesn’t merit a report and a legal response. Sexual abuse of any form is wrong—period, and it can happen anywhere, from doctor’s offices to schools to churches.

Get Confidential Assistance From Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys Today

In the end, it’s crucial to understand that sexual abuse can and often does have long-term effects. Not only can this include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but also depression and even suicide.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, don’t hesitate to contact Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys. We’re a law firm serving clients throughout Michigan. We’ve taken over 120 cases to trial and aren’t afraid to fight for our client’s rights. Our team of sexual assault attorneys can help you understand your rights and how to move forward with your case.

Please fill out our online form today to get started with a free and confidential case evaluation.

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Evan Pappas

Evan Pappas's Bio

Evan Pappas is passionate about helping people that may have been injured in an accident; auto, trucking, motorcycle, medical negligence, police brutality, sex abuse and assault and others.