Alcohol: The No. 1 Date Rape Drug

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One in 12 college-age men admits to committing acts that meet the legal definition of rape or acquaintance rape.

The perpetrators of sexual assault are not always bad people; however, just because “he didn’t mean it” or both parties were drunk doesn’t mean it was not sexual assault. Eighty-two percent of students who experienced unwanted sexual intercourse during the current academic year were under the influence of alcohol and or other drugs when they were victimized.

“Alcohol is the No. 1 date rape drug,” says Alyson Culin, development and marketing director for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. “People always say, ‘Watch what is in your drink,’ but, alcohol is in there,” says Culin. “That in and of itself is a drug.”

“Use a cellphone. Hold your keys.” These are useful prevention tips, however, people forget that sexual assault extends beyond forcible rape.

Sexual victimization refers to any event where one individual attempts to engage in sexual behavior with another individual against his or her wishes and by using some sort of coercion.

Futhermore, “just because it wasn’t under the threat of a gun,” says Culin, “doesn’t mean it wasn’t coercion.

"Sexual assault doesn't always include physical violence, and it doesn't always look one certain way."  

Repeatedly belittling someone to get what you want is considered coercive as is threatening someone. Furthermore, one cannot consent if he or she is drunk. Silence is also not considered to be consent.

Almost 20 percent of undergraduate women experienced sexual assault since entering college (Krebs, Lindquist). Most sexual assaults occurred after women voluntarily consumed alcohol, whereas few occurred after women had been given a drug without their knowledge.

“The most dangerous time for a college-aged student is from the first day of school to Thanksgiving Break,” says Culin. “People who are learning to navigate a new environment are being preyed on by those in positions of power."

Power can come in many forms, she adds. Unequal relationships extend beyond TA-student, student-professor interactions. Often, unequal relationships exist between students.

“There are differences in power that don’t have labels. A senior has more power than a freshman. In social settings, sometimes one student has more power than another.”

In order to prevent sexual assault, Culin says, the No. 1 most important value to instill is confidence. Telling people what you want and don’t want is imperative for a safe and healthy sexual encounter.

Ultimately, she says, “Rape is about power and control. It is about taking what you want without regard for the other person.”

More important than educating college students to drink responsibly, it is essential to educate perpetrators. “People speak euphemistically about ‘taking advantage of’ a drunk girl,” says Culin. “We want to teach people that that is sexual assault.”

Resources in the area:

UNC-C&W: UNC Counseling and Wellness Services is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can call to make an appointment at (919) 966-3658. Counselors can address any issues you are currently experiencing, and connect you with a licensed therapist in the area.

The OCRCC helpline: 1-866-WE-LISTEN (935-4783) or 919-967-7273 or 919-338-0746

Anyone can use the helpline. You don’t have to be in crisis. You can just call for support. Not everyone wants to tell their story to everyone. Not everyone has a support system to talk to. The OCRCC can be that support system. You can also call for specifics i.e. support group information, therapist recommendations, gynecologist recommendations.

Photos:
Girl and guy in bed: twinpossible.com
Girl with arms, legs crossed: lovepanky.com
Silence is not consent: blogs.discovermagazine.com

Sources:
Seawell, Rebecca. "Project Dinah targets campus sexual violence ." Herald-Sun. n. page. Print. http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/7368816/article-Project-Dinah-targets-campus-sexual-violence.

Dowdall GW. The role of alcohol abuse in college student victimization. In: Fisher B, Sloan JJ, eds. Campus Crime. 2nd ed. Springfield, IL: Thomas; 2007:167–187.

Tjaden, P., &Thoenne s, N. (2006). Extent, nature, and consequences of rape victimization: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey [ Special R e p o r t ]. Washington, D C: National Institute of Justice

Fisher BS, Cullen FT, Turner MG. The Sexual Victimization of College Women. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs; 2000.

Koss MP, Gidycz CA, Wisniewski N. The scope of rape: incidence and prevalence of sexual aggression and victimization in a national sample of higher education students. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1987;55:162–170.

Testa M, Livingston J, Vanzile-Tamsen C, Frone MR. The role of women’s substance use in vulnerability to forcible and incapacitated rape. J Stud Alcohol. 2003;64:756–76

Krebs, Christopher, Christine Lindquist, Tara Warner, Bonnie Fisher, and Sandra Martin. "College Women’s Experiences with Physically Forced, Alcohol- or Other Drug-Enabled, and Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault Before and Since Entering College." JOURNAL OF AMERICAN COLLEGE HEALTH. 57.6 (2009): 639-647. Print.

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