Sexual Assault and Alcohol: A Review of Results From National Surveys

Sarah E. Ullman, University of Illinois - Chicago

This presentation will review recent results from several national surveys evaluating the role of offender and victim alcohol use in the outcomes of sexual assaults. Studies reviewed include: the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the National Health and Life Experiences of Women Survey (NHLEWS), the National Violence Against Women (NVAWS) survey, and the nationwide survey of college men and women conducted by Koss. Results across studies show that alcohol plays a role in the outcomes of these assaults, but that offender drinking appears to play a stronger role than victim drinking, particularly in predicting the likelihood of a sexual assault being completed. Offender aggression appears to be the strongest predictor of victim physical injury and medical care, even when other situational and behavioral correlates of assault outcome are controlled. Finally, evidence does not appear to support disinhibition arguments of the role of drinking in offender violence, because offender use of violence and alcohol appear to be separate strategies employed in commission of sexual assault, with little evidence of a synergistic role of aggression and drinking in precipitating more deleterious assault outcomes to women. Recommendations for future research and prevention efforts in the area of alcohol and sexual assault are given based on the results of this review.

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Updated 05/20/2006