10 excuses for sexual assault:

Posted: Sunday, April 12, 2009

1. She was wearing tight jeans.

Denim Day history: In 1999, the Italian Supreme Court Overturned a rape conviction because the victim was wearing tight jeans at the time of the assault. The justices stated that the victim must have helped her attacker remove her jeans, from which they inferred consent. People all around the world were outraged. Wearing jeans on this anniversary, April 22, became an international symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual violence.

2. She was asking for it.

Sexy clothes: It is often believed that sexy or suggestive clothing invites wanted male attention, positive and negative. In fact, women and girls have been raped in everything from jeans to business suits or pajamas. This belief reinforces the myth that women and girls invite assault by their clothing choices, shifting the blame for the crime to the victim and away from the perpetrator, where it belongs.

3. She was flirting online.

Teenagers and children have increasingly become targets of predators both online and via mobile devices. Predators today will use social networking sites to contact youth and convince them that the "stranger" is a "friend." This grooming increases the child's or teen's trust in them and interest in sexual issues. Learning about the dangers of Internet use and speaking about them openly can help minimize the risks from those who wish to abuse.

4. She was his steady girl friend.

Intimate partner sexual assault: One of the most common misconceptions is that most rapes are committed by strangers. In reality, more than 75 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone the survivor knew and trusted - such as a teacher, co-worker, friend, relative or even their steady girlfriend or boyfriend. Just because someone has consented to a sexual act in the past does not give someone the right to assume consent and to force or coerce sexual contact.

5. She was drunk and partying.

Alcohol-related rapes: It is commonly believed that because a woman is drinking and partying she somehow invites rape. In most states, it is against the law to have sex with someone who is unable to give legal consent. Coercing or forcing sex without consent is considered rape/sexual violence. If convicted of this crime, a perpetrator would likely have to register as a sex offender.

6. He had it coming.

Male rape: Male anger and violence is afflicted upon other men and not just women. Rape is a violent act of power and control that damages the victim - male or female. The socialization of men creates immense challenges for them to disclose any type of sexual victimization.

7. She was his wife.

Spousal rape: Spousal rape or marital rape is often unreported and overlooked. There is a widely held view that a woman surrenders consent at the time of marriage and is responsible for satisfying all her husband's needs and desires in order to be a good wife. The law has been slow to criminalize marital rape, but it is now recognized as a crime in all 50 states.

8. I have to do everything for her.

Elderly rape: Sexual assault is a function of power and control. Frail older persons are often dependent on other for care and can be extremely vulnerable to sexual mistreatment. Ninety-six percent of sexual abuse of elders is perpetrated by a family member or caretaker. Eighty-six percent of elder victims of sexual assault are women.

9. The intensity got to him.

Military sexual assault: Today, there are more women serving in the military than ever before. However, women soldiers who signed up to defend their countries have instead had to defend themselves from assault and rape by their own fellow soldiers and in some case their commanding officers. This phenomena is not only unique to women, but inclusive of men as well. Military sexual violence has occurred during training, times of peace and times of war.

10. She has sex for money.

Prostitution: Because a sex worker exchanges a sex act for money does not mean that they cannot be raped or deserve to be sexually violated. Someone's choices in profession, lifestyle and appearance do not give anyone the right to rape, assault or otherwise hurt them.

• Information provided by Peace Over Violence, www.peaceoverviolence.org, and its Denim Day campaign, denimdayusa.org.

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