Augsburg’s Sexual Misconduct Awareness Raising Team (SMART) wants to answer your questions about consent! They will be answering the questions bi-monthly in The Echo.
“What are the statistics of sexual assault relating to alcohol?”
We would like to start with an important distinction in this question. Responsibility is an important aspect of this issue. People cannot blame their actions on alcohol. Alcohol can be involved in sexual misconduct, but does not change the fact that sexual misconduct is the responsibility of the perpetrator and only the perpetrator. It does not matter if it is the victim or perpetrator, or both, who is impaired. Impairment is not the issue; the issue is what action the perpetrator takes. It is within a perpetrator’s power of choosing to consume alcohol, and any actions they take following that consumption are still within their power.
As for the actual statistics: “The prevalence of sexual assault, both involving and not involving alcohol use, cannot be accurately determined because it is usually unreported,” according to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse. Despite this, they conservatively estimate that half of all the 25% of American women who have experienced any sort of sexual assault have been assaulted by a perpetrator under the influence of alcohol. Campus Safety News provides some statistics that are more specific to college life, specifically that “at least 50% of college student sexual assaults are associated with alcohol use.” Sober College has the same statistics but also provides the victims’ specifics. “As it concerns the victim, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that 72% of rapes occurred while victims were intoxicated.” Victims are not at fault for being intoxicated during any sexual assaults.
As cited in the first quote, so many sexual assaults go unreported that it is hard to estimate any exact numbers. SMART would like to point out that in no way is it necessary to report, and we advocate that survivors do what is best for them, whether that is reporting or not. Alcohol’s influence on sexual assault is something that everyone should be aware of, especially college students who are just starting to experiment with alcohol. Awareness of this can help everyone be more cautious in questionable situations. Whether it’s just guarding your drink, getting it yourself or staying in with friends, there are many ways to exercise caution and still have fun.
Questions for SMART’s monthly column can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. They will be printed anonymously and kept confidential. SMART meets every other Monday in OGC 100 from 6pm-7pm. Keep an eye on their Facebook and Instagram pages for upcoming events. You can also email email@example.com to get on their email list.
This article first appeared in the Friday, February 23, 2018, Edition of The Echo.