Alcohol & Sexual Assault
Alcohol and sexual assault often happen
According to some research, 30 percent of all sexual assaults and
75 percent of sexual assaults occurring on college campuses, occur
when the perpetrator is under the influence of alcohol. In many
cases, the victim is also intoxicated. Drinking makes it easy for
the perpetrator to ignore sexual boundaries, while the victim's
intoxication makes it more difficult to guard against an
Alcohol use does not cause sexual
Putting alcohol into your system does not cause you to commit a
sexual assault anymore than putting gasoline into your car causes
you to drive to the airport. Gasoline makes it easier to do what
you want to do (e.g., drive a car) while alcohol also makes it
easier to do what you want to do (e.g., grope women). If you do not
at least think about doing something when sober, you are not likely
to do it when drunk.
Alcohol acts as a permission slip.
By reducing inhibitions, alcohol often makes it more likely that
someone will choose to sexually assault another person. As one man
in a violent offender program noted, "When I first came to your
program I told you that I hit my wife because I was drunk; now I
realize that I drank so that I could hit her." He realized that
alcohol did not excuse or even explain the abuse. Instead, alcohol
was the way that he had tried to avoid responsibility for the
Sexual assault occurs despite alcohol use, not because
When someone is extremely intoxicated, we call that person
"impaired." "Impaired" means that you have more difficulty
performing tasks. Therefore, if you are going to sexually assault
someone when drunk, you have to try harder, focus your attention
and be more determined than if you were sober. In effect, people
who sexually assault when drunk, do so, not because they are
intoxicated, but despite their intoxication. They have to overcome
the impairment to commit the sexual assault.
Quick Facts About Alcohol Use and Sexual Assault
- One study found that 70% of women and 80% of men had been
drinking when a sexual assault occurred.
- Men often drink to feel less inhibited, more powerful, aroused
and aggressive. Peer pressure also tends to encourage rowdy and
- Alcohol impairs judgment. Men are more likely to assume that a
woman who drinks is a willing sex partner; they are more likely to
interpret her behavior, dress or body language as evidence she
wants to have sex.
- Alcohol lowers inhibitions - it makes it easier to force sex on
an unwilling partner and to ignore "No's".
- Alcohol impairs the victim's ability to recognize a potentially
dangerous situation. When drinking, one may not notice someone's
persistent attempts to get them to an isolated location or to get
them to consume more alcohol. Intoxication also makes it much more
difficult to successfully resist a sexual assault.
- Legally, in Indiana an individual cannot consent to sex if they
are drunk; having sex without consent is sexual assault.
- Individuals who are drunk when they are assaulted often feel
responsible for the assault. Please know that the victim is never
to blame for an assault, the person who committed the assault is
Alcohol and Risk Reduction
- If you choose to drink, know your limits and stick to
- Avoid parties where "getting wasted" is the only reason for
- Go out with trusted friends, and return home with trusted
friends. Do not leave friends behind.
- Adopt a "sober buddy" system - designate one person who will
remain sober and watch out for friends.
- Do not allow friends to wander off with someone they do not
- If someone has passed out, do not leave them alone.