"It's not rape if they knew each other."
"Victims cause the violence that has happened to them."
"Sexual assault is an act of lust or passion."
Hand-decorated T-shirts with these common myths about sexual assault are on display at Central Lakes College this week.
Members of CLC's Psychology Club made the T-shirts and are offering them up for students to wear around campus during the noon hour each day this week to raise awareness for sexual assault and spread the truth by debunking frequent misconceptions.
"The front of the T-shirts explain a myth that is usually told about sexual assault, and the back of it has the fact that is actually proven about the myth," Psychology Club president Chayna Cusey said.
It's no secret sexual assault has been a prominent issue in the media over the last year. Psychology instructor and club adviser Alita Reque-Peterson said all that national attention is one reason the club is tackling the subject.
"What we want to do is raise awareness about what it is and what it's not," she said.
For club member Beth Pace, the awareness event is about changing the way victims are treated.
"Because women who are assaulted shouldn't feel like they should be ashamed of what happened to them because they didn't do anything wrong," Pace said.
Victims, she went on, should not have to endure being told they just drank too much or were wearing the wrong clothes or walking down the wrong street.
Cusey pointed to a recent rape case in Ireland drawing international attention for the use of a the 17-year-old accuser's underwear as evidence against her. The accused rapist was acquitted after his attorney pointed to the lacy thong underwear worn by the complainant as evidence she was "asking for it."
"Whenever you go on social media, that's all you hear about, where women are just lying about it," Cusey said, noting, in reality, less than 10 percent of sexual assault accusations are proven false, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
"So people can't really use that as a valid argument," Cusey added.
The students displayed posters citing sources, like The Blue Bench-a sexual assault prevention and support center out of Denver, for why the statements on their T-shirts are misconceptions.
According to The Blue Bench, sexual assault is largely about power and control and not a spontaneous crime of sexual passion. It also reports about 80 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, such as a neighbor, friend, co-worker, classmate or partner.
From a psychology standpoint, the students looked at the effect trauma can have on a person's memory, disproving the idea all victims who "change their story" or may not remember events clearly are lying.
"We know that stress and hormones impact memory, recollection of events. We know that our memory is very reconstructive," Reque-Peterson said. "So the goal is just to be very aware about all these pieces that tie into assault and that common myth that if she hadn't been dressed that way, well that's simply not true. It's about power and control."
Resources on sexual assault
The event was also about making sure students and staff know about resources on campus and around the community related to sexual violence. CLC allows those on campus to anonymously report an act of sexual violence online at https://mycampuseye.com/web/D7C6. More information on campus policies and community resources is available at www.clcmn.edu/sexualviolenceprevention.