The relationships between heavy episodic drinking, sexual assaulting and being sexually assaulted for Southern Urban University students.

Author:Anderson, Peter B.


Several studies have linked heavy episodic drinking to multiple negative outcomes for college students. Those outcomes include accidents, injury, addiction, and sexual assault. The focus of this article is sexual assault. Responses to the CORE Alcohol and Drug Survey were used to measure heavy episodic drinking and "being taken advantage of sexually" or "taking advantage of someone sexually" (referred to as "sexual assault" throughout this article). Results of ANOVAs revealed that, for women, being sexually assaulted was related to heavy episodic drinking and for men, sexually assaulting and being sexually assaulted were both related to heavy episodic drinking. These results are in agreement with past research and provide new data about the relationship, for men, between heavy episodic drinking and being sexually assaulted. Suggestions for future research include researching initiators' and receivers' reports of sexual assault to explore the question of gender, especially as it relates to males as receivers of sexual assault.

There are many factors that contribute to the practice of unhealthy and unsafe sexual behaviors (including assaulting others or be assaulted) among college men and women. Andrea Parrot (1998) reported that insensitivity to others' feelings, ambiguous sexual norms, differing personal expectations, alcohol use, and peer pressure can interact and contribute to sexual assault. Many studies have demonstrated a connection between alcohol consumption and sexual assault (Abbey, 2002; Abbey, et. al., 2001; Berkowitz, 1992; Brecklin & Ullman, 2002; Giancola, 2002; Koss & Dinero, 1988). In Harvard University's 1992 survey of over 12,000 college students, 2% stated that they had sex when they were too drunk to give consent (Contemporary Sexuality, 2002). The focus on alcohol consumption in general has meant that few articles specifically cite heavy episodic drinking as a contributing factor in sexual assault (CBS News, 2004; Contemporary Sexuality, 2002). Similarly, the focus on men as assaulters has resulted in little study of women as sexual assaulters of men (Anderson & Struckman-Johnson, 1998; Struckman-Johnson, Struckman-Johnson, & Anderson, 2003). Sexual assault is defined as any type of sexual activity that the recipient does not want or agree to. Sexual assault usually includes touching or intercourse against a person's will (Kahn, et. al., 2003). Heavy episodic drinking is defined as 5 or more drinks in one sitting for men and 4 or more drinks for women (Nelson, et. al., 2004). The purpose of this study was to test the relationships between heavy episodic drinking and individuals' sexual experiences, specifically their experiences with sexually assaulting or being sexually assaulted.


Victim' and Assaulters' Characteristics

Typically, the characteristics of the assaulter and assaulted are analyzed as both distal and proximal behavioral influences. Distal influences are far removed from the assault and include personality characteristics, attitudes, past experiences, and patterns of alcohol use. Proximal influences are temporarily close to the assault and include risky situations and contexts, and pre-assault drinking (Abbey, et. al., 2001). Gender is both a distal characteristic that is typically unchanging and a proximal factor used in predicting the likelihood of assaulting or being assaulted. Perpetrators of sexual assault have been described as men...

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