You see, when you step foot on a college campus, it’s easy to believe that you’re surrounded by a community of people who know each other and have each other’s backs. It’s a comforting feeling, but unfortunately, it’s not always the case. The sad truth is that there are those who take advantage of that sense of safety and security, using it to perpetrate acts of sexual assault.
Any sexual activity that you don’t consent to is sexual assault. It’s as simple as that. Sometimes, people use the term “sexual assault” to describe a variety of different actions, from rape and forced kissing to unwanted touching, secretly recording or photographing sexual activity, as well as engaging in sexual activity in exchange for money. Sexual assault can happen to individuals of any gender or age. It’s a serious issue, and one that we must all work together to address.
At least 50% of college sexual assaults involve alcohol
Research has shown that a staggering 20-25% of women will experience sexual assault during their time in college. And what’s even more shocking is that at least 50% of these incidents involve excessive drinking, and college campus parties are in the centre of it all. Researchers have found that students who live on campus are at a higher risk of experiencing forced sexual activity than those who live off campus, and some believed that it is owed to on-campus students’ higher exposure and closer proximity to the college campus parties.
What’s even more disturbing is that 90% of acquaintance rapes involve the use of drugs and/or alcohol by the assailant, according to studies. And to make matters worse, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center has found that a staggering 75% of rapes occur when the victim is also under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Why might alcohol increase the likelihood of sexual assaults?
There are a few reasons why alcohol consumption can increase the likelihood of sexual assault.
First, excessive drinking can impair a person’s judgment and ability to make informed decisions, which can lead to poor decision-making and risk-taking behaviors. This can make someone more vulnerable to being taken advantage of in a sexual situation.
Second, alcohol can also affect a person’s ability to accurately read social cues, including whether or not someone is consenting to sexual activity. This can lead to misinterpretation of someone’s intentions or desires and can result in non-consensual sexual activity.
Third, perpetrators of sexual assault may intentionally use alcohol to incapacitate their victims and make them more vulnerable to being assaulted. In the case of acquaintance rape, perpetrators may use alcohol or drugs to make their victims less able to resist their advances or to remember what happened, which can further perpetuate the cycle of violence.
It’s important to note that alcohol itself does not cause sexual assault; but it can be a contributing factor that makes someone more vulnerable to being victimised.
Why perpetrators frequently use alcohol to carry out sexual assault?
Alcohol is often used by perpetrators as a tool to commit sexual assault because it can lower inhibitions and impair judgment, making individuals more vulnerable to coercion and exploitation. Additionally, alcohol can make it harder for victims to resist or fight back against an attacker, making it easier for the perpetrator to carry out their assault. This is a particularly concerning issue on college campuses, where heavy drinking is often normalised and celebrated, creating an environment in which sexual assault can occur all too easily.
How to prevent sexual assault on college campus?
It should be a top priority for our communities to teach people how to prevent sexual assault and harassment on college campuses. One of the most effective prevention strategies is to prioritise communication and education around consent, boundaries, and respect for others. This can involve providing training for students and staff to recognise and intervene in potentially dangerous situations, as well as promoting a culture of accountability and responsibility for everyone on campus. In addition, the following prevention strategies can also be implemented:
- Providing anonymous reporting mechanisms and readily accessible victim support services for all students.
- Offering ongoing education and resources on the dangers of excessive drinking and drug use, and ways to minimise the risks associated with these behaviours.
- Establishing clear and consistent policies for reporting and investigating incidents of sexual violence, which are widely known and followed.
- Supporting survivor-centered responses to sexual assault, including trauma-informed care and counseling, and taking seriously the experiences and needs of survivors who come forward.
- Holding perpetrators of sexual violence accountable through effective disciplinary measures and legal action, as appropriate.
In summary, preventing sexual assault on college campuses requires a multifaceted approach that involves both individual and institutional action. By working together to create safe and respectful campus environments, we can help put an end to sexual violence and ensure that everyone can pursue their education without fear of harm or harassment.