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College Women: The Alcohol and Victimization Link

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This five-year longitudinal project utilized a web-based survey, as well as state-of-the-science daily data collection methods, to examine the relationship between alcohol consumption and victimization experiences (verbal, physical, sexual) among a cohort of college women. Nearly 1,000 women who entered college during the fall of 2004 participated in a brief, web-based survey each fall for five years. Findings indicated that rates of sexual victimization were highest in the first year of college and decreased over the remaining years at school. In addition, women who drank prior to entering college were at greater risk of physical and sexual victimization during their first year in college than women who did not drink prior to entering college. Nearly 200 women from the larger sample provided daily data over an eight-week period each spring for four years beginning during the spring of 2005. Based on these data, we found that women were substantially more likely to experience verbal, physical and sexual victimization on days of heavy drinking (four or more drinks) compared to days of no drinking. Women were not at increased risk of victimization on days of non-heavy drinking (less than four drinks) compared to days of no drinking. These findings suggest that college is a time when young women are vulnerable to victimization, particularly when consuming alcohol at rates equivalent or higher than four standard drinks on one drinking occasion. This project was funded by a grant of $1,844,750, from NIAAA, 2004-2010.