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Alcohol-Related Sexual Assault: A Common Problem among College Students

Antonia Abbey

Objective: This article summarizes research on the role of alcohol in college students’ sexual assault experiences. Sexual assault is extremely common among college students. At least half of these sexual assaults involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, the victim or both. Method: Two research literatures were reviewed: the sexual assault literature and the literature that examines alcohol’s effects on aggressive and sexual behavior. Results: Research suggests that alcohol consumption by the perpetrator and/or the victim increases the likelihood of acquaintance sexual assault occurring through multiple pathways. Alcohol’s psychological, cognitive and motor effects contribute to sexual assault. Conclusions: Although existing research addresses some important questions, there are many gaps. Methodological limitations of past research are noted, and suggestions are made for future research. In addition, recommendations are made for college prevention programs and policy initiatives. (J. Stud. Alcohol, Supplement No. 14: 118-128, 2002)