Crimes Against Women: The Reality and The Statistics
Beth Maeker spoke about myths and misconceptions regarding sexual assault cases
in the May luncheon meeting of the Women’s Policy Forum. Maeker is a forensic sexual
assault nurse examiner with Texas Tech Health Sciences Center.
Maeker presented sobering statistics during her talk: that 1 in 3 women in America or
1 in 5 women in Texas will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. She also presented
10 myths or misconceptions associated with sexual assault.
Myth #1: Sexual assault = Sex. Actually, Maeker said, sexual assault is an act of violence,
control and humiliation.
Myth #2: She was drinking. Although alcohol is the most common drug used to facilitate sexual assault, drinking does not cause sexual assault. Being intoxicated is not considered a defense.
Myth #3: She should have visible injuries. According to Maeker, only 31% of adults and 5% of children who are sexually assaulted have visible injuries.
Myth #4: Men can't be sexually assaulted. Not true - in Texas, 12.9% of sexual assaults include male victims.
Myth #5: Women file false reports or lie about sexual assault. In reality, under 8% of sexual assault cases are false, about the same rate as other crimes.
Myth #6: Most victims don't know their rapists. In reality, the majority of assaults involve someone the victim knows, and 45% of cases involve a relative.
Myth #7: Her clothes were too provocative. Maeker said many of the victims she sees were dressed in pajamas, jeans or leggings.
Myth #8: They had consensual sex before. Consent should be given each time and being married doesn't automatically give consent.
Myth #9: She didn't scream or fight back so it can't be assault. Victims may freeze or not fight back; that doesn't cancel the assault. Maeker said she tells her patients, "If you are breathing after it's over and talking to me, then you did everything right."
Myth #10: If it was sexual assault, they would have reported it to the police. Actually, that doesn't always happen for a variety of reasons.
She concluded by saying, "When it comes to sexual assault and abuse against women, there are several misconceptions our society has and the majority of them revolve around making the woman responsible for what happened to them. We take away the accountability of the perpetrator. We don't treat victims of
robbery that way by saying, 'What were you doing carrying an expensive
purse to the grocery store?' No, we blame the person who committed the
crime, unlike sexual assault where we leave the responsibility of what
happened on the person it happened to."