Alcohol's Role in Sexual Assault

What role does alcohol play in sexual assault?

While alcohol use is not the cause of sexual assault, it is often a major contributing factor in sexual assault incidents-75% of men and 55% of women report they had been drinking or taking drugs at the time of the incident.

Alcohol can be a contributing factor because:

  • Alcohol affects judgment and increases risk taking.
  • One is less likely to perceive dangerous situations.
  • It increases likelihood of miscommunication.
  • One is less likely to clearly communicate boundaries.
  • Men who are intoxicated may misinterpret nonsexual behaviors as being sexual.
  • One is less likely to be able to talk her way out of or avoid conflict.
  • An alcohol-impaired person is less apt to control or resist physically dangerous situations.
  • Stereotypically, men may think women who drink "are asking for sex".
  • Perpetrators often get their victims drunk, believing (falsely) that if a woman is unable to give consent for sex, she is consenting.
  • Alcohol is used as an excuse for behavior:
    • a drunk perpetrator is viewed as less responsible.
    • women who are drunk falsely believe their drunkenness caused the attack and are less likely to report it

For more information contact the Alcohol and Drug Awareness Project (ADAP) at x2616.