Debunking three rape myths uri icon

abstract

  • BACKGROUND: Stereotypes and prejudicial misconceptions are prevalent regarding sexual assaults and victims' responses. These are collectively referred to as rape myths. This study examines three rape myths purporting that sexual assault victims (1) immediately report the crime, (2) experience severe physical and/or anogenital injuries, and (3) forcefully resist their assailant. STUDY DESIGN: This is a cross-sectional descriptive study examining presence of physical or anogenital injury, level of physical resistance during a sexual assault, and time to sexual assault report. Study subjects were female sexual assault victims examined by a sexual assault nurse examiner at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2011 and 2012. RESULTS: Sexual assault nurse examiner reports for 317 subjects met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed. Twelve (4%) victims experienced physical injury requiring medical intervention. Thirty-four (11%) sustained anogenital injuries requiring medical intervention. Overall, 253 (81%) victims did not actively resist at some point during the assault, with 178 (57%) victims never actively resisting. Nearly half (129, 43%) did not appear in the emergency department for 12 or more hours from the time of the assault. CONCLUSION: Women who seek emergency department assistance after a sexual assault take a variable amount of time to present to the emergency department, rarely experience moderate or severe physical or anogenital injury, and commonly do not exert strong physical resistance against their attacker during at least part of the assault.

publication date

  • 2014