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Myths of Sexual Violence Discussion Assignment

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SOCW 6200: Human Behavior and the Social Environment I


Myths and misinformation surround the topic of sexual violence. For years, these myths have hung around the discourse, further muddying an already difficult topic about which to communicate. Although all myths can be harmful, there are some that may be arguably more harmful. For this Discussion, you identify some of the myths surrounding the topic of sexual abuse and consider why they have remained so prevalent.

Respond to a colleague’s post by offering a reason as to why his or her identified myths are so prevalent and persistent. Please use the Learning Resources to support your answer.

Colleague’s Response: Christopher Fosdick 

RE: Discussion 1 – Week 9

Post an explanation of which myths of sexual violence you think are the most harmful and why. 

I believe that all myths of sexual violence and rape are harmful, but in different ways. In the case study presented by Plummer et al (2014), I saw two harmful myths at play. The first myth was that only strangers are potential rapists (Zastrow et al., 2019). As in the example of the Johnson family (Plummer et al., 2014), Talia, the victim knew her rapist and she was assaulted at a party by Eric when she was inebriated. Eric, an acquaintance at school, appeared to be opportunistic and was aiming to intoxicate Talia so that he can rape her. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 57 percent of sexual assaults and rapes were committed by someone the survivor knew (Catalano et al., 2009). This incident was not Talia’s fault, but safeguards and decisions could have been made beforehand to protect Talia. Some of these decisions could have included recognizing some of the potential opportunistic behavior of Eric. Another safeguard would have been to go to this party with a few people who she could asked to watch out for her. The friend that passed her on the stairs, for example, could have expressed suspicion at Eric’s intentions for bringing Talia to his bedroom alone while she was nearly passed out.

The second myth that I will only describe shortly is that “women ask for it (Zastrow et al., 2019).” Eric, may have this schema or attitude, which he uses to justify his actions. Although he may hide behind this myth, I don’t think Eric truly believed it, but uses the myth to alleviate any guilt he has for raping Talia. Also, this myth could make Talia question whether or not she was “asking for it” by getting drunk and going to his bedroom. Talia felt ashamed to talk about this incident because a part of her worried that it was partly her own fault (Plummer et al., 2014). This “women-ask-for-it” myth shifts the blame from perpetrator to victim. It is my opinion that, the rape was Eric’s fault and he should morally and legally take responsibility for it.

Catalano, S., Smith, E., Snyder, H., & Rand, M. (2009). Female Victims of Violence. U.S. Department of Publications and Materials, 7.

Plummer, S.-B., Sara Makrirs, & Brocksen, S. M. (Eds.). (2014). Social Work Case Studies: Foundation Year (First). Laureate. 

Zastrow, C. H., Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hessenauer, S. L. (2019). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (11th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning

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