Alcohol and college go hand in hand. Most college students, freshmen, and upperclassmen alike do not appreciate the negative effects of alcohol. It is “liquid courage” in that it reduces inhibitions but that is a knife that cuts both ways. Reduced inhibition means reduced reasoning which affects self-control and good judgment. This is a dangerous combination. In fact, up to 20 percent of college-age men admit to committing a sexual assault. Moreover, within that group, 5 percent of men admit that they may have committed rape.
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What is the effect of alcohol on sexual assault?
First, alcohol clouds the ability to interpret female verbal and non-verbal cues. Essentially, drunken males misunderstand the intentions of their female counterparts which can lead to sexual misconduct.
Additionally, intoxicated males tend to react forcefully when threatened. Furthermore, men may feel entitled to sexual intercourse because they incorrectly interpret a woman’s actions. If she later rebuffs their “move,” intoxicated males may react forcefully or even violently.
Who commits these acts?
The study found that many males who commit these alcohol-driven assaults purposefully target women at bars. It may not be out of malicious or sinister intent but because these men believe stereotypes regarding women. For example, they may believe that women who are drunk or at bars are more sexually available or that these women expect aggressive behavior.
The characteristics of sexual assault
Sexual assault differs depending on the situation. For example, most sexual assault occurs between friends or acquaintances, usually in a home while on a date. Conversely, most alcohol-driven sexual assault occurs between strangers – usually in a bar or party setting.
It is estimated that up to 25 percent of American women are victims of sexual assault and that 18 percent were raped. Conversely, only 20 percent of men admitted to sexual assault and only 5 percent admitted to raping a woman. These numbers demonstrate two situations. First, women are victimized far more often than the official police numbers indicate. Second, that either: (a) men do not realize they are committing sexual assault or (b) that the majority of assaults are committed by a small subset of men.
This study illustrates that combating sexual assault is very complicated. It is pervasive. It occurs on multiple campuses throughout the country. It affects large numbers of students and it is cloaked in alcohol and the “college experience.”