Buffalo, N.Y. -- "If a young woman is drinking with a man at a
party or in a bar and starts to get that strange uncomfortable
feeling she can't explain, it is time to extricate herself from the
situation, not when the warning bells are going off full tilt."
So says Kathleen A. Parks, senior research scientist at the
University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions (RIA), who
has made a career of studying women's substance use and associated
Parks recently received a $406,000 grant from the National
Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to continue her research
on women's risks for sexual assault associated with heterosexual
"Previous research has provided evidence that greater
intoxication as well as a previous sexual assault can increase
women's risk for a subsequent sexual assault, says Parks"
The two-year project will include the development of videos that
will allow the investigators to better understand the process
through which women perceive risks for assault and eventually, will
be used as tools in prevention programs to reduce sexual assault.
Several small studies will be conducted within the larger project
to develop and validate the videos. The studies will include focus
groups and expert feedback about different levels of risk
(ambiguous, low and high) for women who are sober or drinking
"When a woman meets a man in a bar for the first time and
accepts a ride home 'alone,' there's a risk," Parks stated. "She
has isolated herself from friends; she is no longer in control of
whether she will end up at home or somewhere else. This is a
situation that provides a real opportunity for a sexual
Furthermore, Parks added, if a man touches a woman in a sexual
way when first meeting, encroaches on her space, or speaks to her
in a sexually intimate or suggestive way, it should raise red
Parks cautions that young women especially need to be careful
when drinking, particularly when drinking to the point of
However, she emphasizes that women are never to blame for being
"No matter how aware or perceptive a woman is, there will be
situations in which she cannot prevent an assault," Parks
continues."These are not the situations that can be prevented with
this type of research. The intent with this research project is to
empower women to recognize risk factors, respond quickly or avoid
these situations altogether."
The research team on this study includes co-investigators Ronda
H. Dearing, Amy Hequembourg and Maria Testa, all senior research
scientists at RIA.
The Research Institute on Addictions has been a national leader
in the study of addictions since 1970 and a research center of the
University at Buffalo since 1999.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, a flagship institution in the State University
of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus.
UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests
through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional
degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a
member of the Association of American Universities.