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According to the Association of American Universities, the rate of non-consensual sexual contact by physical force or inability to consent since the student enrolled at the school was 13%. Unfortunately, most sexual assault is underreported, and substance use during a sexual assault is further underreported.
When you look closer at sexual misconduct, it is undeniable that the use of drugs and alcohol is a contributing factor to many Title IX violations.
How Does Title IX Relate to Substance Use?
Sexual assault is defined as non-consensual sexual contact and non-consensual sexual intercourse. This includes sexual violence, which may constitute any unwanted sexual touch or attention. Examples include groping, sexual harassment, stalking, attempted rape, or rape. Sexual violence may happen between people who know one another, strangers or even people in an unhealthy relationship.
An underlying issue that starts the chain of events leading to numerous Title IX complaints, lawsuits, and court hearings are irresponsible alcohol use, illicit drug use, and prescription drug misuse. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, an estimated 696,000 students aged 18 to 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking. Approximately 97,000 students aged 18 to 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
Generally, there are two ways that drug-facilitated sexual assault occurs. When the perpetrator intentionally forces a victim to consume drugs or alcohol without their knowledge, or when the perpetrator takes advantage of someone’s voluntary use of drugs or alcohol.
Alcohol use increases the likelihood of sexual assault occurring during social interactions. A person impaired by alcohol or drugs may be legally incapacitated, which means that they cannot legally consent to sexual activity. Therefore, engaging in sexual activity with someone who is incapacitated by substances constitutes sexual assault.
Both legal and illegal drugs are used to assist in a sexual assault. Because of their effects, victims may be physically helpless, unable to refuse sex, or unable to remember what happened. Drugs used to facilitate rape are often odorless, colorless, tasteless, and can be put into any drink. Some common date rape drugs include GHB, Ketamine, and Rohypnol, also known as “roofies.” Alcohol is the most common date rape drug and is present in 80-85% of reported sexual assaults.
This correlation between drug use and sexual misconduct is hard to negate. The silver lining is that their relationship gives us a definitive measure of prevention. Curbing drug and alcohol use in America’s educational system could be the primary factor in lowering rates of Title IX incidents and, more importantly, improving and saving many lives.
What Can We Do?
Perhaps the best way to reduce Title IX violations of sexual misconduct is to educate and spread awareness. Students should understand the relationship between sexual misconduct and substance use. Being intoxicated makes one more likely to be both a victim and a perpetrator.
If you attend a college or university, knowing how and where to report Title IX violations can help. But limiting or abstaining from drug and alcohol use may be the most critical thing that can help avoid a dangerous situation. Doing so can make one less prone to doing many risky things that could increase the chances of becoming a perpetrator or a victim.
If you decide to take part in partying, drinking alcohol, or consuming drugs, know your risks. Don’t accept anything offered to you from an opened container, and try to have a designated sober friend. It is the same ideology behind a designated driver.
Having someone who is not using drugs and alcohol can do their best to watch out for their friends who are. This can prevent them from getting into a potentially dangerous situation. Their judgment could save you from becoming another statistic.
It is important to remember that this prevention can work both ways. Most prevention efforts are focused on ensuring individuals do not become victims. While this is important, there also needs to be a definitive effort to prevent perpetrators. Knowing what sexual misconduct looks like can go a long way in preventing it before it goes too far. Educate yourself with the resources provided to you by your institution, and if you see something, say something.
Facts and Statistics
- Approximately 700,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
- Approximately 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
- According to a national survey, almost 60 percent of college students ages 18-22 drank alcohol in the past month.
- Less than 5% of adolescent and adult sexual assault victims are male, and when men are sexually assaulted, the perpetrator is usually male.
- On average, at least 50% of college students’ sexual assaults are associated with alcohol use. It’s also reported that 74% of the perpetrators and 55% of the victims of rape in a nationally representative sample of college students had been drinking alcohol.