Therapy & Counseling: What’s the Difference?

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The terms “therapy” and “counseling” can be used in many different ways, but in our work, we use them to mean different and specific things. To distinguish between the two, it may be helpful to refer to the latter as “crisis counseling” or “crisis intervention.”

Crisis intervention is a brief service conducted by trained professionals that focuses on offering stability and support during an episode of crisis or period of specific need. The advocate provides emotional support, assesses the client’s needs, brainstorms and explains options, and assists the client in connecting with helpful resources. Depending on what’s needed at the time, the session may aim to resolve an emotional or mental health crisis, or it may aim to answer specific questions or connect to specific resources. Crisis intervention is intended to be a short-term intervention rather than an ongoing source of support: Most OCRCC clients talk to an advocate anywhere from one to five times. When someone is in an immediate crisis, crisis intervention works to resolve the current episode so that the client is able to focus on their long-term healing process. Often one of the helpful resources that advocates connect clients to is therapy.

Therapy goes beyond immediate stabilization to help clients begin the journey of healing from trauma and other major life stressors. In the process of healing, therapy aims to manage and resolve trauma symptoms in the long term. Therapy is an intervention delivered by licensed mental health professionals who are required to document and justify their treatment strategies. Therapy is a longer-term service designed to move past stabilization and delve into the causes of stressors. The Center’s Bilingual Therapy Program provides up to 16 sessions of trauma-focused therapy to aid survivors in processing their trauma and alleviating their triggers and symptoms.

Sexual assault victim advocates and trauma therapists often work together to meet all of the survivors’ needs so that they can move from surviving to thriving. Advocates – like our expert staff and trained volunteer Companions – help to stabilize clients during episodes of crisis, whether prior to beginning therapy or in between therapy sessions. Our therapists provide a safe space for survivors to dig deeper into painful experiences and resolve emotional and somatic reactions so that they can live a full life.

Learn more about our Bilingual Therapy Program at, or call our help line at 866-WE LISTEN or 919-967-7273.

Preventing and Deterring Abusive Relationships in High School

OCRCC Articles

In honor of Relationship Violence Awareness Month, we bring you the first in a blog series by our resident expert on high school students,  Trinity Casimir.

What does an abusive relationship look like? When having conversations in school health classes or watching a movie, an abusive relationship conjures up certain images: a woman taking her children and escaping her husband on a Greyhound bus, broken dishes on the floor, a child carefully choosing outfits to conceal bruises, yelling in the night. While these scenarios are real and devastating, they do not encompass the full definition of abuse. What about the people suffering when no one has laid a finger on them? What about the men and boys pressured to appear invincible when they are hurt? What about high school students, whose relationships are fundamentally different from those of married couples, or even adults in general?

While most students are taught how to identify abuse, they may only be taught to see a narrow set of signs.  According to, relationship abuse includes a wide variety of tactics used to create a power imbalance in the relationship. Behaviors like emotional coercion, isolation, and intimidation can be used in any relationship at any age. A primary reason many teenagers in abusive relationships struggle to name that reality is because they do not identify with the victim that they see portrayed in media or that they learn about in health class. Likewise, teenagers who engage in abuse excuse their behavior because they have never seen themselves as the abuser. What abuse looks like in a high school relationship has yet to be illustrated, and toxic behaviors are quickly becoming normalized. In my school, it is almost commonplace for a partner to prevent their significant other from talking to groups of people or wearing certain clothes, to guilt trip and threaten them. These are all real forms of abuse but are often dismissed simply as childish behavior or as a result of hormones.

Another primary reason abusive relationships in high school go unaddressed is a failure on the part of adults to take teenagers’ relationships seriously. Adults who do not consider the gravity of teenagers’ romantic lives will fail to recognize the severity of abuse when it happens, which in turn deters high schoolers from reporting abuse. By seeking help, a student risks retribution, and when the adult takes no action, a student is left even more vulnerable. When students feel that they have no adult support or advocacy, they are severely limited in their options to escape an abusive relationship.

Some resources do, however, center teen lives and provide insight into how to help teens cope with relationship abuse. The website demonstrates the obstacles that youth in particular face in abusive relationships, and goes further to highlight the ways that identity matters with an exploration of special issues for certain cultures, LGBT+ couples, and immigration status that can further hinder someone from seeking help or addressing the toxicity of their relationship. For the more visually-minded, the One Love Foundation has created a series of videos on Youtube clearly contrasting healthy and unhealthy behaviors in a relationship. These videos give scenarios that allow for a difficult topic to be easily understood and are an excellent teaching tool for parents and teachers. The foundation also produced a film called “Escalation” that is recommended for a high school workshop.

So to answer the question, “What does an abusive relationship look like?”, it takes many different forms- all of which are valid and important to identify. Abusive relationships in high school remain underrepresented in the media, so we must take it upon ourselves to question “normalized” behaviors and encourage teenagers to do so in their own lives. Pushing for authority figures in schools to become educated on various types of abuse is also fundamental to create a supportive community that can ensure a safer environment for high schoolers.


Trinity is is volunteer at the OCRCC and a student at East Chapel Hill High School. She is interested in sociology and the intersections between gender, race, and sexual assault as well as the presence of rape culture among youth. She is also a member of the Youth Against Rape Culture club at East.

7 preguntas frecuentes acerca de línea de ayuda del Centro de Asistencia contra la Violencia Sexual.

OCRCC Articles, Español

En el Centro de Asistencia contra la Violencia Sexual pasamos frecuentemente hablamos de violencia sexual porque es parte nuestro trabajo. Sin embargo, para otras personas estas conversaciones no son fáciles de tener. La violencia sexual es un tema muy personal e incómodo, pues hablar de su experiencia personal puede ser invasivo. Sin embargo, para otras personas hablar de sus experiencias es justamente lo que necesitan para seguir recuperándose. La Línea de Ayuda de 24 horas (también conocida como “línea de crisis” o “hotline”) del Centro es un espacio anónimo y confidencial para tener estas conversaciones. Aquí hay 7 preguntas que le pueden ayudar para decidir si llamar a la Línea de Ayuda para pedir apoyo.

  1. No estoy seguro de que éste sea el teléfono para hablar de mi situación. ¿Llamo a la Línea de Ayuda?

Si tiene ha tenido experiencias sexuales no deseadas, definitivamente llame a la Línea de Ayuda. Aun cuando usted no esté seguro de que su situación sea considerada “violencia sexual” llame. Si no somos el mejor recurso para lo que usted está pasando, podemos ayudarle a encontrar un recurso más adecuado. Es difícil hablar de violencia sexual y nadie debería de tener que pasar solo por esa situación tan incierta. Toda la gente puede llamar a nuestra línea de ayuda en cualquier momento, ya sea inmediatamente después del trauma o mucho tiempo después. Podemos brindar apoyo y recursos para los sobrevivientes, sus seres queridos y otros profesionales que los apoyan.

  1. No sé con quién estoy hablando. ¿Quién está del otro lado del teléfono?

Las personas que contestan en nuestra Línea de Ayuda se llaman Acompañantes. Los Acompañantes reciben un entrenamiento extensivo en temas relacionados con asaltos sexuales, intervención en crisis y recursos comunitarios con el fin de que puedan ofrecer un espacio seguro en donde sus problemas son escuchados con compasión. Los Acompañantes además ofrecen otros recursos en donde las personas podrían recibir más ayuda.

  1. No sé qué esperar. ¿Qué va a pasar cuando llame a la Línea de Ayuda?

En general, cuando usted marque a la Línea de Ayuda en horarios de oficina (entre semana, de 9:00 am a 4:00 pm) personal capacitado contestará el teléfono de inmediato. Si llama fuera de los horarios de oficina, la persona que conteste el teléfono preguntará por su nombre y su número de teléfono. Esa persona llamará al Acompañante y le dará la información. El Acompañante le llamará a usted al teléfono que usted indicó. Si prefiere no dar su nombre y número telefónico, usted puede pedir que lo transfieran directamente al Acompañante.

Para personas que hablan español, el proceso es un poco diferente. Algunas veces usted será transferido directamente a un Acompañante o personal del Centro que hable en español mientras otras veces tendrá el apoyo de un intérprete mientras habla por teléfono con el Acompañante. De cualquier manera, tendrá el apoyo necesario para que reciba los recursos que usted necesita.

  1. No sé exactamente que estoy buscando. ¿Qué tipo de apoyo puedo esperar si llamo a Línea de Ayuda?

La Línea de Ayuda del Centro de Asistencia contra la Violencia Sexual es confidencial, y un recurso inmediato para situaciones de crisis y no crisis. Los Acompañantes le brindarán un espacio para que pueda hablar sobre sus pensamientos, las emociones abrumadoras y otras preocupaciones. Los Acompañantes también podrían darle información y referirlo a diferentes lugares para recibir cuidado para la salud, opciones legales u otras personas en caso de que los Acompañantes no tengan la respuesta a su pregunta. Si usted va al hospital, quiere ir al departamento de la policía o tiene una audiencia o cita en la corte, un Acompañante puede ir con usted para brindarle apoyo.

  1. Estoy preocupado por un alguien cercano. ¿Puedo hablar con un Acompañante de todas formas?

Si. Es importante también hablar de las reacciones y el impacto que esta situación tiene en los sobrevivientes secundarios, ya sea usted la pareja, padre, madre u otro miembro de la familia de alguien que ha sido abusado sexualmente. Trabajar con sus propias preocupaciones puede ayudarle a estar más presente para ayudar al sobreviviente. También puedes actuar como un defensor y llamar a la Línea de Ayuda para obtener más información  recursos que puedas compartir con ellos.

  1. Hablé con alguien por teléfono. ¿Qué hago ahora?

Respire. Agradézcase a sí mismo que usted se ha tomado el tiempo y energía para cubrir sus necesidades, este es uno de los pasos que le puede ayudar a avanzar en su recuperación. Llamar a alguien que no conoce y pedirle ayuda es una tarea difícil que requiere de coraje y fuerza. Respire otra vez. Si llamó a la Línea de Ayuda para pedir información sobre otros servicios, llámelos cuando usted se sienta listo para hablar con ellos. Si no es posible llamarles a otros todavía, llámenos otra vez. Estamos disponibles las 24 hrs del día, los 7 días de la semana, usted no tiene por qué pasar por esto solo. Los siguientes pasos dependen de su situación personal. Sin importar las preguntas que tenga o las situaciones que vengan, siempre estamos aquí para brindarle apoyo.

  1. ¿Cómo llamo a la Línea de Ayuda del Centro de Asistencia contra la Violencia Sexual?

La Línea de Ayuda esta siempre disponible al 919-967-7273 o 866-935-4783.


Este texto, originalmente publicado en Marzo del 2016, fue escrito por Natalie Ziemba, la Coordinadora de Respuesta en Crisis, y fue traducido por Denisse Horcasitas.

Natalie coordinó la Línea de Ayuda de 24 horas y supervisó a los Acompañantes voluntarios, coordinó el equipo multidisciplinario SART del Condado de Orange, cocina deliciosas galletas y más.



Mamá, ¿Qué es violación?

OCRCC Articles, Español

Ya sea que tu hijo haya escuchado la palabra “violación” en las noticias, la haya leído en internet o en nuestros materiales, hay maneras apropiadas para hablar con tus hijos cuando le pregunten de esto.

Incluso antes de que ellos te pregunten, hay algunas cosas que los papas pueden hacer para sentar la base para la conversación.

  1. Queremos que los niños sepan que sus partes privadas son de ellos y están fuera del alcance de los otros, pero también queremos que ellos sepan cuáles son sus partes privadas y que se sientan cómodos hablando de ellas. Usar términos los términos anatómicamente correctos como vagina, vulva y pene promueve una imagen positiva, auto-confianza además de fomentar la comunicación entre padres e hijos. Usar una palabra indirecta para describir las partes privadas puede promover vergüenza, inconformidad o pena acerca de los cuerpos. Además, usar términos anatómicamente correctos es de ayuda cuando hay un toque inapropiado y el niño lo reporta a los padres o a la policía.
  2.  Queremos que los niños sepan que “Su cuerpo es suyo”. Es importante ensenarle a los niños pequeños que su cuerpo les pertenece a ellos, ellos deciden quien, como y cuando los tocan. Practicar esta idea desde pequeños los prepara para tener relaciones saludables cuando sean adolescentes, jóvenes y adultos. Hable con sus hijos acerca de los toques que les gustan y los que no. ¿Les gustan las cosquillas? ¿Los abrazos?, ¿Quién les puede dar abrazos? Tal vez les gusta recibirlos de su mamá o papá pero no de otros miembros de la familia. No los obligue a darle abrazos o besos a otros adultos si no quieres. Si les preocupa lastimar los sentimientos de otros adultos, usted le pueden decir “Esta bien, tu cuerpo te pertenece y tú decides si quieres dar un beso o un abrazo hoy. ¿Qué tal si le mandas un beso de lejos o le das un “high five”? Empodere a sus hijos a decir No si alguien trata de tocar sus cuerpos de una manera que no les gusta.
  3. Enseñar consentimiento puede empezar desde pequeños si usted es un modelo de consentimiento. Pregúnteles ¿Puedo cargarte? y espera a que le conteste, ya sea con lenguaje verbal o no verbal. Antes de ayudarle a sus hijos a vestirse, pregúnteles ¿Puedo quitarte la pijama? y espere a que le den permiso. Si dicen que no y necesita que se vistan, explíqueles lo que usted hará y porque. Por ejemplo: “Tenemos que ir a la tienda y tienes que ponerte la ropa. Si no puedes hacerlo por ti mismo te tengo que ayudar”. Enfatice que es para ayudarlos o mantenerlos seguros. Cuando jueguen a las cosquillas o a las “luchitas” pare frecuentemente y pregunte por su permiso. Si sus hijos dicen que No, escúchelos. Cuando los niños estén jugando juntos, enséñele que cuando alguien dice que No, ellos tienen que escuchar. Aplique consecuencias cuando no escuche.

Si tu hijo pregunta que significa “violación”, puedes usar esos conceptos junto con un lenguaje apropiado para cada edad.

3 a 5 años

Niños muy pequeños hacen esta pregunta porque no han oído esta palabra antes y están explorando nuevas palabras.  Así como otras palabras que han oído pero son muy complejas para que comprendan el verdadero significado, ellos necesitan una definición básica pues en realidad no están preguntando por el concepto. Puede decir que tiene que ver con romper una regla muy importante y que una persona no respetó el cuerpo de la otra persona. Si los niños quiere saber más, puede decirles que una persona tocó a otra persona en sus partes privadas aún y cuando la persona le dijo que no.

6 a 9 años

Para los 6 años, la mayoría de los niños conocen el concepto de crimen y de ley. Puedes decirles que “una violación es un crimen que tiene que ver con toques inapropiados. Es cuando las personas son forzadas a hacer algo con su cuerpo que ellos no quieren hacer”. Puedes continuar la conversación recordándoles el Dicho de seguridad: “Di No, Escapate y Dile a alguien”, y lo que pueden hacer ellos en caso de que alguien los toque de una manera incómoda.

9 a 12 años

A esta edad la mayoría de los niños quieren comprender que significa la palabra y tienen la habilidad empática para entender el concepto. Además, a esta edad los niños tienen un entendimiento básico del sexo como una actividad que implica amor, cariño y es algo que las dos personas quieren y disfrutan hacer. Puede usar esa definición de sexo y decirles que violación es lo opuesto. Es cuando alguien es forzado a realizar un acto sexual cuando no quiere hacerlo. Es algo muy doloroso y un crimen.

12 años o más

A esta edad, puede usar el ejemplo que ellos le den para hablar de consentimiento y sexualidad saludable. Explíqueles que solo SI es SI. Los adolescentes y jóvenes seguramente están consumiendo información y esas son oportunidades para discutir el tema- ayudarle a analizar críticamente la problemática que se presenta en la TV, Facebook u otros medios. Dependiendo de los ejemplos, tal vez pueda tener conversaciones productivas y apropiadas acerca de consentimiento, relaciones saludables, acciones que culpabilizan a la víctima o sobre la cultura de la violación.

Nuestros programas de “Toque Seguro” enseñan prevención, empoderamiento y conciencia de si mismos. Estos mensajes pueden ser repetidos y reforzados en la casa, todos los días. Puede empoderar a los niños a que pongan atención al tipo de toques que ellos reciben y como los hacen sentir. Si a ellos no les gusta o les hace sentir incómodos, tiene el derecho de decirlo, decir que no y contarle a un adulto que les ayude y los escuche. Enséñenles a los niños no solo a respetar el cuerpo y espacio personal de los otros sino también a esperar de los demás.


Este texto fue escrito por Alexis Kralic y traducido por Denisse Horcasitas.

Alexis Kralic es nuestra Coordinadora de Educación y Finanzas. Además de manejar las finanzas de nuestra agencia, ella coordina nuestro programa “Toques Seguros” que es un programa educativo que enseña a los estudiantes de pre-escolar y primaria a mantenerse seguros.

Standing with Charlottesville

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The Orange County Rape Crisis Center works to end sexual violence and its impact for all people. To this end, we are committed to sexual violence survivor support and prevention efforts that address the full spectrum of violence that survivors experience, and the interconnected nature of racial and sexual violence.

The following is a statement from the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA) about the recent violence against protesters in Charlottesville, VA. As a member agency of NCCASA and with a commitment to diversity and nondiscrimination, we support their statement.

It is with heavy hearts that we correspond with you all today. This past weekend in Charlottesville, VA, our entire country was impacted by the violence. As a supporter of freedom of speech, I think it is important to distinguish when one person’s rights violates another person’s or group of people’s rights. What happened this weekend is a culmination of violence and privilege which continues to perpetuate a culture of racism and rape. In order to end a culture of rape we must also address all forms of oppression.

I hope as leaders in this movement, we will continue to hold our country in our hearts and lovingly hold ourselves accountable. There is much work to be done, and as consumers of media we too are triggered, and all of our bodies hold trauma. In the midst of all that is happening in our country, I want to continue to work alongside of each of you, so please take care of yourselves. We must take care of ourselves in order to continue to fight for the rights of ALL.

In solidarity,



The Center maintains a commitment to providing excellent and culturally competent services to survivors of all genders, including support for survivors with complex trauma histories that include racialized violence.

If you or someone you care about could use some support, please get in touch with us via our 24-Hour Help Line or by coming into our office during business hours. No appointment needed.


How to Talk to Kids about Abuse

OCRCC Articles

If you are concerned that your child has been exposed to inappropriate touching or child sexual abuse, you might wonder how to begin a conversation. With years of experience as both parent and educator, I’d like to offer some guidance on where to start with this difficult topic.

Start by talking about touches and who they like them from. I like to start the conversation by asking if I could give them a high five or a hug. I respect their response. I then talk about different types of touches so they understand that they may like some touches, but not others.

Do you like hugs? Holding hands? Tickles? Kisses?

Then talk about who they like certain touches from.

Do you like hugs from me? Your friend? Your teacher? Your brother or sister?

When do you like those touches?

This lets them know they can like different touches from different people and at different times.

Once this base of understanding is established, you can then talk about feelings around certain people.

How do you feel when you are around___________?

(If they are young and don’t have a large feelings vocabulary, try offering some examples such as happy, safe, worried, sad, and uncomfortable.)

Young children might not be able to relate detailed and chronological descriptions, but they will remember how experiences and interactions made them feel.

Has anyone has touched your body in a way that makes you feel hurt or sad?

Has anyone touched your body without asking first?

Kids might start listing all the times a kid at school or a sibling poked, pinched, or hit them. If you try to justify the actions, explain why it happened, or say it wasn’t a big deal, the child will learn that it is not safe to share with you. Listen to them and validate their feelings. They may be testing you with these stories to see how you will respond and if they can trust you enough to share a story about something that really hurt or scared them.

Has anyone touched the private parts of your body?

If they mention things like helping in the bathroom or getting dressed or at the doctor, explain that it is okay for some grownups to touch your private parts if they are helping to keep you safe and healthy. However, they should still ask first. If they don’t feel comfortable with some adults helping them, make a plan for what they can do to get help from a different adult – an adult they trust.

Has anyone told you to keep a secret that is making you feel worried/sad/scared?

A common tactic of offenders is to tell the child to keep it secret, with the explicit or implied threat of getting in trouble if they tell.

Your body belongs to you. If something that someone said or did is making you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, it is not your fault.

You deserve to feel safe and I want to help you.

If the child talks about touches they don’t like, people that make them feel sad or uncomfortable, or instances of inappropriate touch, you can validate their feelings and let them know it is not their fault.

It is okay to like different touches from different people.

I can understand how that would make you feel that way.

You look worried or upset, can you tell me how it makes you feel to talk about this?

If someone didn’t ask you first, then it was not okay for them to touch your body at all.

If someone showed you their private parts or asked you to touch them, and you did, it is not your fault. They knew it was wrong and they should not have done that.

If at any point they disclose sexual touching or abuse, stay calm. If you demonstrate anger toward the person that did that, the child might also think you are mad at them, or that they did something wrong. They need your support and help.

Thank you for sharing with me.

I know it is hard/scary/confusing to talk about this and you are so brave.

It is not your fault, you have not done anything wrong.

No one should touch your body without your permission.

Then call DSS to make a report. And you can always call our 24-Hour Help Line for support, concerns, or questions. We can help you make a report if you’d like.

Even if your child does not disclose inappropriate touching, don’t stop the conversation. Revisit this with your young children on a regular basis. The best protection for children is prevention. Let your child know that their body belongs to them and you respect that. And always model asking before touching.

Every night before bed, I ask my growing son if he would like a hug or a kiss. Some days he says yes and some days he says no. In fact, he is 12 now and most days he says no. But every once in a while he says yes and squeezes me tight. I want him to know that I will respect his body autonomy and that I am always there if he needs a little extra physical and emotional support.

When I model this behavior for my child, I am hopeful that he will internalize the concept of consent before touching and be comfortable with asking, especially when he starts having intimate relationships. This is true prevention.

Alexis Kralic is our Education & Finance Coordinator. In addition to managing the agency’s finances and bookkeeping, she coordinates Safe Touch, our safety education program for preschool and elementary students.

If you want to learn more please join us at our next Stewards of Children training. Info below:

Myth or Fact: “She Asked for It”

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Myth: If a woman is raped, she probably asked for it in some way.

Fact: Only the perpetrator is responsible for the decision to violate someone. 

This myth restricts women’s behavior and places blame on survivors rather than perpetrators. Women and those who identify as female are often expected to dress or behave in certain ways and to follow strict but contradictory rules to protect themselves from harm. This myth perpetuates the double standard that reinforces an expectation of male aggressiveness and the perceived responsibility of women to avoid any behavior that could be seen as provocative.

This myth also helps distance non-survivors from survivors. By insisting that a survivor played some role, others can alleviate their own fear of assault by assuming that certain behaviors will protect them from a similar circumstance. For example, if you believe women are partially responsible for being assaulted if they were drinking, then you can take comfort in the idea that you are not at risk if you don’t drink too much. Or if you believe women are partially responsible for being assaulted if they were dressed provocatively, then you can take comfort in the idea that you are not at risk if you dress more modestly.

But offenders select their victims not based on the way they dress, but rather on their perceived vulnerability. Rapists target people who seem vulnerable to assault and who seem less likely to report them.

Asking potential victims to be responsible for protecting themselves from victimization is a form of oppression. Only perpetrators are responsible for their behavior, and they should be held accountable. Even if you believe that women should adhere to certain behavioral standards – how they dress, how much they drink, who they spend time with, etc. – the consequences of not meeting these standards should never be rape. No one “asks” to be raped, and no one deserves to be raped. There is never an excuse, an invitation, or a justification for sexual violence. Bottom line.

myth 3

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”

Myth or Fact: “She Lied”

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Myth: The rate of false reporting for rape is higher than for other violent crimes.hiring-myth

Fact: Rape is the most underreported crime, NOT the most falsely reported.

Actually, the prevalence of false reporting of rape is about the same as it is for other felonies – between 2% and 8%. A study of 136 sexual assault cases in Boston found only a 5.9% rate of false reports.

This myth serves to blame the survivor. It increases suspicion and hostility toward people who come forward. Although there are isolated incidents where people have lied about being raped, these are the exception rather than the norm.

One major reason that Americans believe that rape is often falsely reported is that the media sensationalizes false reporting stories, while it minimizes or fails to cover the hundreds of thousands of true stories that happen every year.

Another major reason this myth is so commonly accepted is the misconception that rape is “easy to claim and hard to dispute.” But this is far from the truth—many survivors describe their experience of pressing charges or reporting their assault to law enforcement as a “second rape.” Reporting a rape or assault is a difficult and lengthy process. The survivor must share very personal details with complete strangers, undergo a traumatic evidence collection process, and will likely be subjected to a great deal of scrutiny or suspicion. Most survivors experience negative impacts, such as trauma from re-living/re-telling violence committed against them, victim-blaming comments that compound self-blame, and a general lack of support.  It is unlikely that someone would go through this long and painful process if their story was not true. In fact, the reality is that rape is extremely underreported — most survivors never report their experience, especially on college campuses.

Furthermore, many cases are eventually dropped because the structure of the criminal justice system – from police to judge – is not designed to handle the particulars of sexual violence cases. RAINN estimates that out of every 1,000 rapes, only 6 rapists will be incarcerated, meaning that “perpetrators of sexual violence are less likely to go to jail or prison than other criminals.” Considering this, most survivors feel that there are enormous costs to reporting with usually very little to gain. So very few reports of rape are false — which means that the vast majority of them are true.

myth 2

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”

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.

myth 1

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

OCRCC Articles

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.

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