Myth or Fact: “He Didn’t Mean To”

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Myth: If a guy rapes someone, he probably didn’t mean to things just got out of control.hiring-myth

Fact: Perpetrators rape with intention, and they do so out of sexual entitlement, in order to gain power and control.

This myth is often used as an excuse for male aggression. It assumes that women and other survivors are responsible for male sexual arousal and that that arousal is an uncontrollable urge that must be satisfied. Other versions of this myth suggest that men may be too dumb or too bad at communication to recognize if a person is not interested, especially if he is drunk or aroused.

This myth gets two things wrong. Firstly, it lumps all men in the category of rapists. While most rapists are male, the vast majority of men never commit rape. Sexual arousal is a strong urge in human beings, but it is controllable. Claiming that men cannot control their urges is inaccurate and unfair to men. Secondly, it makes rape seem unintentional.

David Lisak’s research into what he terms “undetected rapists” has found that while perpetrators don’t name what they do as rape, they do intentionally use violent and predatory behavior in order to commit multiple acts of sexual violence. Lisak says: “Date rapists are widely assumed to be basically good guys who, because of a combination of too much alcohol and too little clear communication, end up coercing sex upon their partners. This image is widely promulgated, but it is flatly contradicted by research.”

The motives for rape are complex and varied but often include belief in male privilege and their entitlement to sex; hostility toward women and historically marginalized and oppressed people; a rigid belief system regarding gender roles; a commitment to hyper-masculinity; the desire to exert power and control; the desire to humiliate and degrade; and in some cases, the desire to inflict pain. A study of convicted sex offenders in prison found that most incarcerated rapists already have available and willing sexual partners. Many perpetrators rape in order to gain power and control – not for sexual gratification or because of sexual frustration. Sometimes, erection and ejaculation are not even present during the rape.

Yet because of cultural messages surrounding sex and a general lack of education about consent in our society, many people assume that rape is just a matter of confusion or miscommunication. But that’s not true. Rapists know when they do not have consent; they intentionally inflict violence on others. This is either for the gratification of the violence or because they have been taught that they are entitled to others’ bodies regardless of their feelings or desires.

There certainly may be situations where the desire for sex can be seen as a motive for rape. However, choosing to engage in sexual activity without the other person’s consent – that is, the definition of rape – is an expression of entitlement, power, and control.

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This post is part of a series on Myths & Facts about Sexual Violence:

Myth #1: “He Didn’t Mean To”
Myth #2: “She Lied”
Myth #3: “She Asked For It”
Myth #4: “It Wasn’t Really Rape”

Myths & Facts about Sexual Violence

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Take a moment to consider something we don’t always think about—a difficult topic that is rarely dfc611b122ae4cf6e5c73abfa05342b0discussed: rape. We hear about it in the news, on social media, in public safety announcements, on TV. But we don’t always take the time to really think about rape. For example, if someone asked you for an explicit definition of rape right now, do you think you could give an accurate one?

If you’re as informed as the general public is, the answer to that question is probably no—and that’s okay! Because over the course of this blog series, we’ll be taking the time to break down the myths and facts about sexual violence.

Simply put, people tend to know more myths than facts about rape. Rape myths are dangerous because they normalize sexual violence and tell us that violence is the natural order of things. They say that only certain types of people can experience rape and only certain types of people can be perpetrators, which leads to victim-blaming and leaves the root causes of sexual violence unaddressed.

So why do people subscribe to rape myths?

  • Because they believe in stereotypes and discriminatory ideas.
  • Because they have never thought to question myths they have been told since childhood.
  • Because the myths give them a sense of safety. For example, if you believe that women who dress provocatively are more likely to be raped, then you could take comfort in the idea that dressing modestly would protect you from violence.


It’s important that we recognize the myths that we ourselves hold about sexual violence because rape myths have serious consequences. Without critically rejecting them, we encourage perpetration, discourage bystander intervention, and promote victim blaming—sometimes without even realizing that we’re doing it.

People who accept rape myths are more likely to commit rape.
Rape myths act as a justification for perpetrators’ aggression—a way to rationalize what they’ve done as something other than violence. Perpetrators often believe that victims secretly want to be coerced into sex, or that they “deserve” to be raped. Rape myths allow perpetrators to justify their violent behaviors. And when bystanders make comments or jokes supporting rape myths, that encourages perpetrators and provides “cover” for their actions. In order to effectively prevent sexual violence in our society, we must address the common myths that support acceptance of rape, denigration of survivors, and impunity for perpetrators.

People who accept rape myths are less likely to intervene when they witness sexual violence.
Bystanders are less likely to intervene in cases of sexual assault when they accept rape myths. For example, a bystander may witness a situation in which someone is too drunk to consent, but they may not intervene because they accept the rape myth that victims are responsible for preventing their own assaults. When bystanders don’t intervene, rapists think their behavior is okay (or at least accepted by their peers), and it allows them to further rationalize the violence and continue to perpetrate.

People who accept rape myths are more likely to blame the victim.
Many rape myths disguise themselves as efforts to protect women—as “safety tips” to “prevent” rape. You’ve probably heard phrases like, “Use the buddy system,” “Don’t walk alone at night,” “Dress and act modestly,” or “Always carry a cell phone!” The idea that women are even partially responsible for preventing their own victimization leads to risk-reduction strategies that often encourage victim blaming. Regardless of the efficacy of these tips for any individual person, they fail to address the fundamental problem: the behavior of perpetrators.

Additionally, “while it’s not a bad thing for women to learn how to assess risk, learn self-defense, and learn how to define personal boundaries,” it puts the responsibility on the survivor to not be raped and does not guarantee their safety. Furthermore, if one person reduces their risk of rape by following a restrictive safety plan, they’re only trying to ensure that they’re not the person experiencing rape. This is not true prevention because the perpetrator will end up targeting someone else. Only by addressing perpetrator responsibility and active bystander intervention can we help make everyone safer and ensure that we are all able to live without fear and constraint.

The pervasive nature of common rape myths often plays a big role in keeping survivors silent, increasing feelings of self-blame and stigma that survivors experience after an assault. Identifying and recognizing harmful beliefs as myths can help us support survivors with compassion and without question.

Untitled-300x218In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we are going to explore the following common myths and explain the facts that counter them over the next few weeks. 

Myth #1: “He Didn’t Mean To”
Myth #2: “She Lied”
– Myth #3: “She Asked For It”
– Myth #4: “It Wasn’t Really Rape”

If you want to make an end to sexual violence in your community we hope that you’ll follow along and start important conversations with your friends and family about these damaging beliefs.

5 Tips for Finding the Right Babysitter

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blog postWhether you’re rushing to complete errands or enjoying a nice date night, it’s likely that you often find yourself in need of a babysitter for your kids. However, it can be difficult to find a person you trust completely to take care of your child. 1 in 10 children experience sexual abuse before the age of 18, and 40% of instances of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by older youth. With Child Abuse Prevention Month coming up in April, here are some tips for choosing the right person to care for your child.

1. Ask the potential babysitter for references. Talk to parents of kids they have cared for in the past as well as references for any other jobs they may have held to get a better sense of who they are. Read more

Place Your Bet on Us with GoodBookey!

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Do you love basketball or other competitive sports? Always wanted to dabble in gambling? Looking for a fun new way to support the Center?

Well, you’re in luck, because the OCRCC has recently partnered with GoodBookey, an app that allows you and your friends to bet on popular sporting events – except instead of the wager being exchanged through individuals, the money you gamble is donated to the winner’s choice nonprofit! As you know, we take basketball seriously here in Orange County, and fortunately, we’ve partnered with GoodBookey just in time for March Madness!

To support the Center through GoodBookey, download the app with this link on your iOS or Android device, enter your information, and invite your friends to play! If you “lose” your bet, your money will go to the winner’s favorite charity. Your donation is tax deductible, and GoodBookey will send you a receipt! Whether you’re new to betting or an old hat, your donation is sure to make a difference in Orange County.

BONUS FOR THE CENTER! Right now GoodBookey is pledging to donate $1 for every donor who uses our link to download AND register for the app, up to $1,000 dollars! All you have to do is click here, and you will be taken to the app store to download this simple app. To make sure we get the dollar, please register! No purchase is necessary, but we hope you’ll play in our honor. By being represented on GoodBookey we have the opportunity to reach new audiences while giving loyal donors like you, a new and fun way to support our mission.

So get going! Click here or on the image above to get started.

Why I Decided to Become a Companion

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men can stop rapeTo start, I am a man — a white heterosexual man to be exact.  I am probably not the first image that comes to mind when talking about an advocate at a rape crisis center.  But here I am, volunteering with the Orange County Rape Crisis Center as a Companion for survivors of sexual violence.  In sharing my story of how I got here, I hope that other men will read this and consider getting involved, either within our community or by taking a firm stand against sexual violence.

When I was finishing my final year of my undergraduate career, I began to take an interest in women’s issues.  To this day I cannot pinpoint what started it, but I do remember reading more blog posts and articles through Facebook about women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted, as well as more generic commentary about the everyday discrimination women encounter.  By the time I was in graduate school, my awareness of the frequency of sexual assault, particularly on college campuses, led me to change my academic focus toward women’s rights and gender equality.  Although my studies focus on the global stage, my conviction that women’s issues needed to be addressed only grew.

I volunteered as a Companion to learn more about sexual violence and how to combat it from a third party perspective.  Reading about instances of rape left me feeling angry that such actions occurred with stunning regularity, and frustrated that people could either brush it off or treat it as “just the way things are.”  While I am grateful for the training provided by the Center and have enjoyed my experience so far, I cannot deny that it has been emotionally trying.  Exposing myself to a subject that I could not personally relate to was difficult.  I certainly cared about what happened, but I understood very quickly that I could never fully comprehend the harassment, the violence, or the subtle discrimination because I was born a man. Read more

Purple Ribbon of Excellence

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purple-ribbon-of-excellenceWe are excited to announce that the Orange County Rape Crisis Center has been awarded the inaugural Purple Ribbon of Excellence! Presented by the Training and Education Committee of the North Carolina Domestic Violence Commission, the Purple Ribbon of Excellence recognized the Center’s efforts to prevent child sexual abuse through our community education programs.

Over the last thirty years, our Safe Touch program for children and our Start Strong program for teens have helped prevent child sexual abuse by teaching children and adolescents to identify inappropriate behavior, to develop an understanding of consent and healthy relationships, and to stand against sexual violence in their schools and communities. These programs are designed for continuous learning, which means that students in every public school in Orange County will receive Safe Touch (preK through 5th grade) or Start Strong (7th and 9th grade) programming year after year, so the skills and knowledge they gain are consistently reinforced and built upon. Conversations that start with learning your own bodily autonomy and boundaries eventually shift to how these ideas apply to treating and respecting others. Read more

Tips for Supporting a Partner in Crisis

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d6eb60bcbd2c14fb8daabc773cd99ffcThe impacts of sexual violence can include a wide array of frustrations and barriers to daily functioning for survivors. Watching from the sidelines as a loved one struggles with those difficulties can bring a similar yet different sense of helplessness and frustration. Secondary survivors — the partners, friends, and family members of survivors — often go through their own trauma response as a result of hearing about the survivor’s experiences and witnessing the negative impacts.

Whether a primary survivor is still reeling in the immediate aftermath of having experienced sexual violence, or whether they are struggling with flashbacks and triggers months or years after the initial incident, it can be painful to watch someone experiencing a crisis. It is important to note that a crisis is different than an emergency. An emergency presents imminent risk of physical harm, whereas a crisis is the mental and emotional response when a situation is too overwhelming to be handled by regular coping methods.

As the person on the outside watching someone suffer, it is a common response to want to do anything you can to make it better, and also common to feel like there is nothing you can do to make it better. While you may not be able to fix the whole situation, your presence and support can be an invaluable benefit to your loved one. Here are a few suggestions for small ways to help someone through a crisis: Read more

New Office Hours: 9am-4pm

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Our office hours have changed!

Previously, our official office hours were from 9:00am – 5:00pm, but we’ve now switched to a 9:00am – 4:00pm schedule. Not to worry though, our services will still be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

What does this mean?

While The Center’s in-person office hours will decrease by one hour each day, the services we provide for survivors and their loved ones will continue to operate as usual. We will still offer 24-hour support, every day of the year. If you or someone you know needs support, you may:

Additionally, our staff and volunteers may be able to meet with you outside of office hours by request. Please give us a call at 919-967-7273 to learn more about our services.

Why are we making the switch?

This change in office hours will allow our staff to have greater flexibility in their work days, encouraging balance over the course of each work week. A lot of the support we offer and outreach events we attend occur in the evenings or over the weekend. The change in office hours means we can offer these after-hours opportunities more sustainably.

More questions about our change in hours?

Please contact us anytime at 919-968-4647 or

Internet Safety Tips

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Many parents speak to their children about protecting themselves from unwanted physical contact. However, it is important to consider unsafe, uncomfortable, or unwanted interactions online as well. These interactions may take the form of sexual harassment, cyberbullying, or a person asking for too much personal information or pretending to be someone that they are not. In honor of International Internet Day, here are some tips for talking to your children about internet safety.

  1. Talk to your child about internet privacy. Advise your child not to share their personal information – such as full names, parents’ names, phone numbers, addresses, schools, locations, passwords, or even pictures – with anyone online or through social media sites. Remind your child that nothing they share on the internet is ever completely private.
  1. Caution your child that while it is okay to have online friends, people are not always who they say they are. If an online friend asks to meet in person, wants to keep the friendship a secret, or asks a lot of personal questions, these are generally warning signs. Ask your child to tell you if their online friend wants to meet them in person.
  1. Encourage your child to tell you if something that is said to them or something that they see online makes them uncomfortable. Ask your child to print a picture of anything that makes them uncomfortable and show it to you in case comments or pictures are later deleted. Remind your child that if someone online says something that makes them feel uncomfortable, upset, or scared, it is not their fault and that you will support them.

Read more

Relationship Violence Awareness Month

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It’s that time of year again. In a state that barely has real seasons, trees actually start to change color, and the temperature drops below 80 — it’s finally October. For students, that means midterms are right around the corner. For parents, it’s time to start thinking about trick or treating. For everyone in between, pumpkin-flavored delicacies emerge to spice up every meal of the day.

But let’s not forget that October also means the start of Relationship Violence Awareness Month (RVAM)Relationship violence – sometimes referred to as intimate partner violence, dating violence, or domestic violence – is the occurrence of interpersonal violence within an intimate relationship or after the relationship has ended.

Some of you might be thinking that you’re already aware of domestic violence or that you already have a fairly good concept of what it is, but I challenge you to think more deeply about it this month. Generally, the dominant narrative is a man beating or otherwise physically hurting his wife. But in reality, relationship violence doesn’t always look the way you think it might.

We often forget that those who experience psychological or emotional abuse, sexual assault, and financial abuse all relationships — not just marriages and heterosexual relationships — are victims of domestic violence as well.

Relationship violence is based in one partner’s desire to exercise control over another partner, and that control can be realized using a variety of tactics of manipulation and abuse. These tactics often involve isolating the victim from their family and friends, working to lower their self-esteem, and coercing them to do things they don’t want to do.

Read more

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