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shot glasses, binge drinking

Colleges can’t discount role of drinking in sexual assault

By CATHY WILDE

Published May 22, 2014

“Although the task force’s report contained critically important information on how campuses can better deal with assault cases, we were concerned to see that alcohol use received barely a mention.”
Jennifer Livingston, senior research scientist
Research Institute on Addictions

Reducing binge drinking on campuses must be a priority in addressing issues of college sexual assault, according to a new Expert Summary from UB’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA).

In April, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault released its first report, “Not Alone,” on how colleges can combat sexual assault on campus.

“Although the task force’s report contained critically important information on how campuses can better deal with assault cases, we were concerned to see that alcohol use received barely a mention,” says Jennifer Livingston, RIA senior research scientist and co-author of the Expert Summary.

“Research consistently shows that heavy alcohol use is a factor in a majority of college sexual assault cases,” Livingston says. “Therefore, reduction of binge drinking on campuses must be recognized as a crucial goal in assault prevention efforts.”

Kathleen Parks and Maria Testa, RIA senior research scientists, along with Livingston, have conducted groundbreaking research on the association between binge drinking and college sexual assault, and their findings are included in the Expert Summary.

In addition to their research findings about the role of heavy drinking by perpetrators, victims or both in sexual assault cases, the Expert Summary includes information how cultural norms relating to alcohol and sex can both fuel conditions where assault thrives and create barriers to reporting assault.

“Sexual assault is always wrong; there is no doubt about that,” says Kathleen Miller, RIA senior research scientist and co-author. “Unfortunately, disagreements about the role of alcohol have sometimes been a stumbling block when discussing prevention efforts.

“Some advocates worry that acknowledging the role of binge drinking in assaults is tantamount to blaming the victim, but our common goal here is to prevent sexual assaults by better understanding the conditions under which they are likely to occur,” Miller says. “We need to work together to educate students and keep them safe.”

 

The researchers are going about this wrong. Men who commit acts of rape and sexual assault will commit these crimes regardless of whether or not alcohol is present. Clearly, these researchers are ignorant about rape culture and its effects on society at large. Men who are rapists use alcohol (and drugs) as an aid to committing acts of rape. Do these researchers honestly believe that reducing binge drinking will reduce the number of men who are rapists? No, these men will simply find another way to prey on their chosen vicitms.

 

Maybe these researchers ought to do a little research on rape culture and the patriarchy before conducting their study? As a survivor of sexual assault myself, I am absolutely livid at these researchers for perpetuating one of the many myths of rape culture (i.e., that alcohol and "drunk women" are the only reasons why men rape, never mind the fact we live in an extremely sexist society that devalues women's bodily autonomy).

 

Anne Taylor