Vera House has empowered and enriched my life.
- Vera House client
Sexual Assault Myths & FAQ's
Myths About Sexual Assault
Each year, Vera House helps more than 700 people who have been sexually assaulted. More than half of these victims are children younger than 18. Yet most sexual assaults go unreported, partly because of myths regarding the nature of the crime, the attackers and the victims.
MYTH: No one can be raped against his or her will.
REALITY: Rape is a crime of power and aggression. Rapists use intimidation, threats and often, physical force. Most victims believe their lives are in danger.
MYTH: Women ask to be raped by flirting or wearing sexy clothing.
REALITY: No one asks or deserves to be raped. The attacker is always responsible.
MYTH: When a woman says "no," she means yes.
REALITY: “No” means “No” - period.
MYTH: Most victims are raped by someone they don't know.
REALITY: In more than 80% of all rapes and sexual assaults, the victim and attacker know each other. Nearly half take place in the victim's home.
MYTH: Women "cry rape" to get even with men or to protect their reputations.
REALITY: Rape and the ensuing medical and legal processes are traumatic for victims. Rarely does anyone - man, woman or child - make false allegations of rape.
MYTH: Men can't be sexually assaulted.
REALITY: Any person can be the victim of sexual assault. Rape and sexual assault are among the most devastating acts of violence a man can experience. 1 of every 10 victims of rape or sexual assault is a boy or man.
MYTH: Rape cannot occur between people who are married or in an ongoing sexual relationship.
REALITY: Just because two people have had sex in the past does not mean that they have given consent to have sex at any time. New York State law recognizes the crime of marital rape.
MYTH: Only attractive young women are at risk.
REALITY: People of all ages are raped and sexually assaulted. Vera House has worked with victims as young as 2 and as old as 94.
FAQ’s About Sexual Assault
WHAT IS RAPE?
New York State law defines rape as forced sexual intercourse. Any other type of forced sexual contact is sexual assault.
WHAT IS "DATE RAPE"?
Acquaintance rape, often called date rape, is when the rapist is someone the victim knows - a date, friend, boyfriend, classmate or anyone else who is not a stranger. The vast majority of rape or sexual assault victims are assaulted by someone they know. The law does not make any distinctions between stranger rapes and date or acquaintance rape.
CAN I GET HELP AT VERA HOUSE?
Vera House works with men, women and children of all ages. We can help you if you are a victim or survivor of rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse or domestic violence or if someone in your family is a victim or survivor. Most services at Vera House are free. We believe that money and insurance should never prevent people from getting the help they need. We obtain funding through a variety of funding sources and community fundraising.
IF I GO TO VERA HOUSE, WILL THEY TELL ANYONE?
Services at Vera House are confidential. That means that we cannot tell anyone anything without your written consent. Your privacy and comfort are very important to us. It is important to understand that there are exceptions to confidentiality. We are required to follow the Mandated Reporting laws, which require us to report any suspected cases of child abuse, neglect, and we are also required to report to law enforcement if you tell us you plan to hurt yourself or anyone else.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I CALL THE HOTLINE?
When you call the 24-hour hotline, you will reach a trained advocate who will listen to you and help you understand your options. You do not have to give any information you do not want to share. The advocate will offer to have someone meet you at the hospital or police station to support you in getting attention or in reporting the assault to the police. If you do not want to do those things, you can just talk. You can call the hotline to talk at any time, right after the assault or months or years later, whenever you need support.
I WAS RAPED, BUT I DON'T WANT TO TALK TO THE POLICE. DO I HAVE TO REPORT IT?
It is completely up to you whether or not to report a rape or sexual assault. If you want the person who attacked you to go to jail, then you have to report the crime to the police - the sooner the better.
I HAVE HEARD THE MEDICAL EXAMINATION IS SCARY. DO I HAVE TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL?
It is extremely important for you to get medical attention as soon as possible. You may have injuries that are not apparent. The doctor or nurse can give you emergency contraception (EC) to prevent pregnancy and medications to prevent HIV and AIDS. The hospital will call the police only if you want them to.
IF I DON'T REPORT THE ASSAULT, CAN I CHANGE MY MIND AND REPORT IT LATER?
You can always file a report with the police, but it is best to do so right away. Your memory will be most clear soon after the attack, and there may be physical evidence that will be lost if you wait. Reporting the crime right away and having a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner collect evidence during a medical examination increases the chances that your attacker can be caught and prosecuted.
WILL THE PERSON WHO SEXUALLY ASSAULTED ME GO TO JAIL?
Sexual assault is a serious crime. If you choose to report your assault to law enforcement, the District Attorney's office will decide if there is enough evidence to bring charges against the attacker. If convicted, it is possible that the attacker could receive a jail or prison sentence.
WHAT IF I WAS ON A DATE OR AT A PARTY? WILL ANYONE BELIEVE ME?
Sexual assault is a crime. It does not matter if you were on a date, at a party, or if you were drinking when it happened. It is never okay for someone to force sex on you. Under the law, date and acquaintance rape are no different from rape by a stranger.
I DON'T REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED. HOW DO I KNOW IF I WAS DRUGGED?
People who have had rape drugs slipped into a drink often do not remember what happened while they were unconscious. They may remember what happened but not be able to remember clearly. If you have memory loss and have been sexually assaulted, you may have been given a rape drug such as Rohypnol or GHB. If you think you have been drugged, get to a hospital right away.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MYSELF?
There is no way any of us can guarantee our safety, but there are some precautions you can take without giving up your freedom. Click HERE for more information.