Is There a Link Between Alcohol Use and Sexual Assault?
If someone initiated sexual activity and you didn’t want to go through with it, you have been assaulted sexually. This also goes by the name of “sexual abuse,” and it encompasses several behaviors. These include forcing you to perform a sexual act for money, taking a sexually explicit video or photograph without your permission, forcibly touching you, and forcibly kissing you.
The very first thing we need to say about this behavior is that the victim is never to blame. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, or SAAM, and its point is to emphasize the fact that there is no excuse for sexual violence, to support the victims of sexual assault, and to shine a light on this issue.
Who Is at Risk for Sexual Assault?
Two very specific segments of the population are at a high risk of being sexually assaulted. They are girls between the ages of 6 and 17 and those with special needs. Within these two groups are those living with families where there is a lot of violence between the members, where the parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol, and where the parents are neglecting their children.
There are risk factors within the community as well. In general, some communities appear to tolerate sexual assault, and the laws that are supposed to protect the public from sexual assault are lenient. A lack of education on this subject also contributes to the community’s failure to reduce sexual assaults, and the belief that men are superior to women has also been cited as a reason that sexual assault is tolerated.
Last but certainly not least is the prevalence of alcohol. More college students are using alcohol than who are using any other psychoactive substance. Many students are binge drinking, and this is extremely dangerous for several reasons. While students are engaged in this behavior, there is the possibility that they will suffer a blackout. When this occurs, the likelihood that they will be sexually assaulted increases.
What Do Sexual Assault and Alcohol Have in Common?
We cannot say that alcohol causes sexual assault, but it is a risk factor that leads to sexual assault. According to the research, 50% of the sexual assaults that occurred on college campuses happened when the victim, perpetrator, or both were in the process of consuming alcohol. In addition to that, they found that sexual assaults were more likely to occur in places where alcohol was being served. Some of these places included bars and parties.
The reason that sexual assaults often occur at these places is that the perpetrators were searching for victims who were likely to have been drinking. Because they specifically look for this, we can only say that alcohol is a risk factor and not a cause of these sexual assaults.
Alcohol consumption affects both the victim and the perpetrator. For example, alcohol negatively influences the perpetrator’s brain structures that are responsible for violent and sexual behavior. Alcohol causes the perpetrator to become exceptionally aggressive, but it may also increase the possibility of his desire to have sex. When a female victim is under the influence of alcohol, she is incapable of consenting to sexual activity. At the same time, she loses her inhibitions.
Who Is Responsible for Sexual Assaults?
The perpetrator is always responsible for sexual assaults. After all, the perpetrator begins to feel more powerful and aggressive after consuming alcohol. It isn’t surprising that about half of the sexual assaults happen because the perpetrator was drinking alcohol. In many cases, they were consuming alcohol with their victims.
Drinking in a College Setting
Alcohol is seen as an important part of the college experience. Unfortunately, many students take this to a significant degree and engage in binge drinking. According to the NIAA, binge drinking is bringing your blood alcohol content level to 0.08% or higher. Typically, this is done by males by consuming five alcoholic drinks in two hours. For women, it is consuming four alcoholic drinks in that amount of time.
The Consequences of College Binge Drinking
One of the known consequences of college binge drinking is being more susceptible to sexual assault. Researchers believe that 20% of college women experience at least one sexual assault during their years in college. As a matter of fact, the majority of sexual assaults that occur on college campuses involve alcohol or some other substance.
Alcohol-involved sexual assaults can occur between casual acquaintances or people who don’t know each other at all. These include strangers in clubs or bars where you are meeting new people or hanging out with a lot of people you don’t know very well. Non-alcohol-involved sexual assaults tend to happen between partners who know each other intimately. This includes romantic partners, family members, classmates, coworkers, and friends.
The Prevalence of Sexual Assault
Researchers determined that 25% of female adults reported being sexually assaulted in their adolescent years or later in adulthood. Another 18% of these women stated that they had been raped. In addition to that, they found that 20% of men admitted to sexually assaulting someone, and 5% stated that they had raped someone in the past.
Studies on college campuses demonstrated that 50% of female respondents stated that they have been sexually assaulted, and another 25% had either been raped or someone attempted to rape them. In the same research study, 25% of college men admitted to sexually assaulting someone, and another 8% stated that they had either raped someone or that they attempted to do so.
Throughout their studies, researchers found that alcohol was involved in about 50% of all sexual assaults. These studies also determined that 50% of victims of sexual assault stated that they were consuming alcohol at the time that the assault occurred. The researchers came to the conclusion that, if a perpetrator is drinking, his victim is also going to have a drink. They rarely came across a case in which the victim had been drinking but the perpetrator had not.
The Demographics of Sexual Assault Victims
Most rapes are perpetrated against young women in their teenage years and early adult years. The profile of a typical sexual assault victim is a female college student. She willingly goes out on a date with a young man, and they finish the date at either his house or hers. They begin kissing consensually, but he forces her into unwanted sexual activities without a weapon. She is against this activity and tries her best to fight him off.
Outside of the college experience, the typical sexual assault case involves a woman out on a date with a friend or acquaintance. As he tries to force her into sexual activity with verbal or physical pressure, she fights him to the best of her ability.
How Many Sexual Assaults Involve Alcohol?
As the research has shown, approximately 50% of the sexual assaults that occur on college campuses happened after one or both people had been drinking. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center even stated that 75% of rapes happened to intoxicated victims. In addition to that, they discovered that women living on campus were more likely to suffer a sexual assault than those living off-campus.
Unfortunately, many women have come to expect that they will be sexually assaulted when they arrive on a college campus. This may be because the consumption of alcohol causes women to lower their inhibitions, but it also makes them feel as if there isn’t any danger.
Perceptions of Women Who Drink
The image that men have of a woman enjoying a drink in a bar, for example, further explains how alcohol and sexual assault can become intertwined. According to the research, if a woman is observed drinking in a bar, college males see her as promiscuous. Further research showed that college students believed that a woman drinking alcohol in a bar would be easy for them to seduce. They expected her to be more willing to have sex with them than a woman who is drinking a soda. Furthermore, they expect a date to end with both parties in bed if they consumed alcohol during their time together.
A Sexual Signal
The research further illuminated the fact that young men believed that women wanted to have sex even though they said “no” because she was drinking. Even when researchers included women in their research, they found that the participants had a difficult time determining when a sexual assault was taking place and when it wasn’t. For example, researchers in one study brought together adults who did not drink. They were shown a scene in which an acquaintance rape was taking place, but the subjects didn’t see it as a rape because both the man and the woman had been drinking. Obviously, both men and women are unlikely to recognize that a woman is being raped if alcohol is anywhere near the event.
The Woman’s Perception
The woman’s perception also contributes to sexual assault. For example, if a woman has been drinking, she will be as impaired as the man. Researchers found that a woman will fail to recognize that her date is interested in pursuing sexual activity with her if she has been drinking. Furthermore, many women stated that they did things that they wouldn’t ordinarily do when they were drinking. The alcohol caused them to be unable to perceive the danger they may be in, and it led to a sexual assault.
After a sexual assault occurs, it is rarely reported to the police. These women may believe that the police would not support them because they had been drinking. Young women are more likely to blame themselves for a sexual assault, so they are unlikely to report it.
The thing that both women and men experiencing problems with their drinking should do is get treatment at Granite Recovery Centers. If drinking is causing you to behave in a violent manner or it is causing you to do things that you wouldn’t do when you are sober, we can help you overcome this issue. Furthermore, if the trauma of being the victim of a sexual assault has caused you to use alcohol as a coping mechanism, we can help. Our inpatient treatment program or outpatient treatment programs can help you regain control of your life. Contact us today.