For many students, partying with drugs and alcohol is a quintessential part of their college experience.
But for some women, what's meant to be a fun night can end in "incapacitated rape," according to a new study.
A survey of 483 female first-year students at a private university in the northeast found that 15% said they'd been raped, or had experienced attempted rape, while incapacitated by drugs or alcohol during their first-year of college.
The results, while not nationally representative, mirror previous studies that show a connection between heavy drinking and marijuana use with the risk of sexual assault.
As colleges and universities try to address the systemic roots of campus sexual assault, some activists have criticized the the focus on alcohol use as yet another way to put the burden of prevention on victims.
The "It's On Us" campaign, a national initiative launched in 2014 by President Obama and Vice President Biden, tries to combat this very approach by arguing that ending sexual assault is a collective responsibility. Carey, professor of behavioral and social sciences at Brown University and co-author of the in an email.
Yet, she said, social psychology experiments show women who drink are viewed as more sexually available.
At the same time, alcohol impairs a victim's ability to communicate and resist.
A 2002 review of several studies also found that when some perpetrators drink, it increases the likelihood that they will act more aggressively."So we must consider all ways that we can reduce risk of assault," Carey said, "and avoiding incapacitation is one of them." Carey's research also reveals alarming trends about women's prior experiences with incapacitated rape and continued positive associations between alcohol and sex.One in six women said they'd been raped while incapacitated between age 14 and before entering college.That experience was a key factor in predicting whether they would report the same type of assault in college; 41% of women who’d been previously raped while incapacitated were again victimized during their first year.Women with a history of incapacitated rape drank more heavily, used marijuana more often and had more sex partners than women with no history.(Heavy drinking was defined as four or more drinks on one occasion.) Those behaviors may relate to their previous assault, write Carey and her co-authors.