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I never called it ‘rape’ until much more recently, even though I repeatedly told him ‘no’.” This article summarizes current knowledge about alcohol’s role in sexual assault and discusses questions that remain to be answered by future research.

Alcohol’s contribution to sexual assault cannot be discussed without also describing the general characteristics of sexual assault; thus, this article alternates between providing information about sexual assault in general and contrasting this information with findings regarding alcohol-involved sexual assaults.

that is, when one of them is drinking, the other one is generally drinking as well (Abbey et al. However, this finding complicates researchers’ efforts to disentangle the unique effects of alcohol consumption on the perpetrators’ versus the victims’ behavior.

50.) of adolescent and adult women has been called a silent epidemic, because it occurs at high rates yet is rarely reported to the authorities (Koss 1988).

Several reasons contribute to the underreporting of sexual assault cases.

Many victims do not tell others about the assault, because they fear that they will not be believed or will be derogated, which, according to research findings, is a valid concern (Abbey et al. Other victims may not realize that they have actually experienced legally defined rape or sexual assault, because the incident does not fit the prototypic scenario of “stranger rape.” For example, in a study by Abbey and colleagues (1996b), a woman wrote, “ For years I believed it was my fault for being too drunk.

In such studies, the estimates’ adequacy varies with the sources of information used.

Most researchers agree that the most reliable estimates derive from studies using multi-item scales Based on such measures, conservative estimates suggest that at least 25 percent of American women have been sexually assaulted in adolescence or adulthood and that 18 percent have been raped.

Researchers have used two main approaches to examine alcohol’s role in sexual assault: (1) surveys of victims and perpetrators of sexual assault and (2) laboratory studies that examine alcohol’s effects on human behavior.

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