Copied with permission from: The National Child Traumatic Stress Network www.NCTSN.org
Yes means yes. Everything else means no!
MYTH: It wasn’t sexual abuse if you didn’t have intercourse.
FACT: If you didn’t agree to the sexual activity, it was sexual abuse. Even if there was no or very little physical contact, if you felt like you had no other choice (for example, if the person threatened to leave you by the side of the highway) it was sexual abuse.
MYTH: If you’re abused by somebody who’s the same sex as you, it means you’re gay.
FACT: Sexual abuse is a crime. It’s about power and control, not desire. The sex of the perpetrator doesn’t say anything about whether the victim is straight or gay.
MYTH: If you thought it was fun and you liked the attention, it wasn’t sexual abuse.
FACT: Perpetrators often engage children in inappropriate sexual interactions in a gradual and playful manner. As a result, children may enjoy the attention and bodily sensations they experience and may not object to the ongoing abusive activities. This is still sexual abuse and it is not the child’s fault no matter how he/she responds to the abuse.
MYTH: If you were high or drunk when it happened, it was your own fault.
FACT: Getting drunk or high doesn’t mean you deserve to be sexually abused. Even though it’s important to be aware of where you are and what you’re doing in order to keep safe, the perpetrator is always at fault.
MYTH: If you aren’t physically hurt (hit, punched, pushed to the ground, etc.), it isn’t really abuse.
FACT: Emotional pressure (including threats) can be just as bad as physical force. If you were made to do something sexual that you didn’t want to do, it’s sexual abuse—no matter what kind of force the perpetrator used.
MYTH: If the perpetrator was drunk or high when it happened, it wasn’t really his (or her) fault.
FACT: Lots of people drink or use drugs and never sexually abuse anyone. Being drunk or high is no excuse for abuse. Sexual abuse is always the perpetrator’s responsibility.
MYTH: If you flirted or fooled around with the person beforehand, you were asking for it.
FACT: Even if you made it seem like you might be interested in sex, you always have the right to say no. If you didn’t agree to doing something sexual at the time, it’s sexual abuse.
MYTH: If you were sexually involved with the person in the past, it can’t be sexual abuse.
FACT: It’s your body. You have the right to say what happens and when. No matter what you’ve done before, no one has the right to force you into doing anything sexual.
MYTH: If you were sexually aroused when it happened, deep down you really wanted it.
FACT: It’s normal for your body to respond to sexual stimulation; it’s a response that can happen even during a rape. It has nothing to do with whether or not you agreed to be in the situation before it happened. If you didn’t agree before it started, it was sexual abuse.
MYTH: Telling people will just lead to more trouble. No one will believe you anyway.
FACT: Letting others know about sexual abuse is the first step in healing. Most teens find that someone believes and supports them every step of the way. But this can’t happen until you tell someone what happened.
MYTH: Once you’ve been sexually abused, you’ll never be able to trust anyone or have a normal relationship.
FACT: Most teens who have experienced sexual abuse go on to have normal, healthy, happy relationships and sex lives. Talking about the abuse and getting support and treatment helps.