Alcohol is a central factor in sexual assault cases, especially on college campuses. Studies report the majority of victims and offenders were under the influence. Intoxicated rape is the major type of forced sex, and most females report knowing the offender. One in twelve college males admit to having committed acts that meet the legal definition of rape or acquaintance rape.
We know that alcohol lowers our inhibitions, which may allow people to get into sexual situations that may go further than people had planned. There may also be some people who expect sex after they have been drinking and may use coercion to get it. Communication is poor while we are under the influence. A person may be too drunk or tired to inform the partner that they don’t want to continue sexual activity. Our abilities to listen also become clouded.
One in four women in college will be the victim of a sexual assault, while men are typically victims in approximately 1% of rape cases. These numbers are lower for men, however, the statistics greatly affect them as well. Men have sisters, girlfriends, and friends who may experience a sexual assault. Some people argue that females may “cry” rape after having sex because they later feel guilty. The FBI, however, reports that only 2% of rape accusations are false.
Intoxicated rape cases increase if the following risk factors are present:
You may be surprised to learn what the law says. The law states anyone found mentally incompetent is not able to give consent to sex. Yes, being drunk meets criteria for being mentally incompetent.
Make sure you hear the word “yes.” When being sexually active, confirm that you have consent, to avoid any discrepancies later.
Know what Bystander Rape is. This occurs when someone is aware that another person may be the victim of a sexual assault and does nothing about it. Often times rapes are premeditated, with several people involved to some degree. People make the decision not to do anything, or turn their heads, and the crime occurs. If you have knowledge of a rape prior to, or during the act, please confront the offender and alert the victim and whoever the victim is with.
Be aware of your own drinking habits. Remember, binge drinkers are more likely to be victims and offenders of sexual assault.
Use the buddy system. Go out with friends you know and keep an eye on each other and changes in behavior due to drinking or drugs. When you are leaving a party, be sure your friends are accounted for.
Make sure you can get home. Be aware of your location and know the way home if you need to. People may leave a situation at a party only to discover they have no idea where they are.
Know that men metabolize alcohol quicker. Drink for drink, men process alcohol at a quicker rate. This greatly effects our blood alcohol content (BAC). Men have more dehydrogenase (the enzyme that breaks down alcohol) and water per volume in their bodies. Birth control pills and hormonal changes may cause quicker intoxication. Therefore, going drink-for-drink with males may not be a good idea.
Be aware of your own drinking habits. Remember, binge drinkers are more likely to be victims of sexual assault.
Use your gut. If you are in a situation or on a date, and something doesn’t feel right, remove yourself from that situation. Trust your instincts. It’s better to be safe.
Keep an eye on your drink (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). Date rape drugs are colorless, odorless, and work very quickly. If you think you may have been drugged, tell as many people you can. Do not leave to the bathroom or go alone outside for fresh air, as the perpetrator will expect this.
Students are encouraged to report the assault to the proper authorities as soon as possible. You may also contact the Office of Student Services if the incident occurred on campus or with another student. Seek medical attention immediately. Confidential counseling services will be available for you on campus or you may be given a referral.
Support is often needed at this time and afterward. Know that adjustments are available regarding living arrangements and academics, if necessary. More information is available in your Student Handbook on this issue, at Counseling and Psychological Services, the Health Center, or at the Office of Substance Awareness.