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Zawacki, T., Abbey, A., Buck, P.O., McAuslan, P., & Clinton-Sherrod, A.M. (2003). Perpetrators of alcohol-involved sexual assaults: how do they differ from other sexual assault perpetrators and nonperpetrators?

Aggressive Behavior, 29, 366-380.

A number of studies have round that among sexual assaults perpetrated by males against females (rape, other physically forced sexual contact, verbally coerced sexual contact), about 50% involved the consumption of alcohol by either the perpetrator or the victim. In most cases involving alcohol, both had been drinking. Most previous studies of sexual assault perpetration have not distinguished between possible personality differences between men committing alcohol-involved sexual assaults and men perpetrating non-alcohol-involved sexual assaults. The Zawacki et al. study compared the personality characteristics, attitudes, and experiences of men who had committed sexual assault involving alcohol, men who had committed sexual assault without alcohol, and men who report that they have not committed sexual assault. According to the authors, "By delineating similarities and differences between men who commit different types of sexual assault, this study provides information about potential mechanisms unique to alcohol-related sexual aggression that have implications for designing effective prevention and treatment programs" (p. 367).

The sample for the study consisted of 356 male students at a Midwestern university in the United States. The mean age of the sample was 24 years, and 57% were white and 30% were African-American. The men filled-out questionnaires that assessed sexual assault perpetration (without labelling the behaviours as criminal) since age 14, antisocial behaviour and traits, dating and sex-related behaviours and beliefs, and alcohol-related behaviours and beliefs.

In the total sample of 356 men, 31% reported verbally coerced sexual intercourse, 9% reported forced sexual contact (i.e., kissing and fondling but no penetration), 4% reported attempted rape, and 14% reported completed rape. Nearly all of the men who engaged in one of these behaviours (96%) were acquainted with their victim. Among these men, 26% reported that no alcohol was involved. For assaults involving alcohol, the man involved drank in 96% of cases and both he and the victim drank in 84% of the cases. On average, the perpetrator and victim consumed four or rive drinks each.

Zawacki et al. compared nonperpetrators, non-alcohol-involved perpetrators, and alcohol-involved perpetrators on a number of variables. Compared to nonperpetrators, perpetrators scored higher on history of delinquency, aggressive and dominant personality traits, frequent misperception of a woman's friendliness as sexual interest, casual sexual behaviour, endorsement of casual sex, attitudes supporting violence against women, and greater sexual dominance. Compared to the other two groups, alcohol-involved perpetrators were more impulsive and reported greater alcohol consumption during misperceptions of women's sexual intent, stronger beliefs that alcohol enhances sex drive, and a stronger belief that women's drinking is a cue signifying sexual interest. According to the authors, their findings suggest that
 ... men's beliefs that alcohol increases sex
 drive and is a cue that women use to convey
 sexual interest, and men's misperception of
 women's sexual interest in drinking situations,
 increase their likelihood of committing alcohol-involved
 sexual assault. Prevention programs
 targeting alcohol-involved perpetrators should
 specifically address the content of men's
 alcohol beliefs and provide corrective
 feedback about the inaccuracy and potential
 destructiveness of those beliefs .... men
 should be warned not to trust their perceptions
 of women's sexual interest when drinking.
 Through role-playing, men could practice
 listening and responding appropriately to
 women's refusals so that those refusals will
 be more easily recognized and heeded, even
 when drinking. Finally, programs should
 emphasize that drinking should not be used
 as a strategy or excuse for forcing sex on an
 unwilling person (p. 378).
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sex Research Update
Author:McKay, Alexander
Publication:The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2003
Previous Article:Krahe, B., Waizenhofer, E. & Moller. I. (2003). Women's sexual aggression against men: prevalence and predictors.
Next Article:Conference announcements.

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