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College Sexual Assault and Alcohol

By November 28, 2018April 6th, 2022No Comments

The conversation between sexual assault and alcohol is a very toxic one. The relationship that alcohol has with sexual assault is often seen as an excuse, or even an explanation, when truly, it is neither of those.

The statistics regarding alcohol and sexual assault are astounding. In a 1987 study about college women it was found that “In this survey, 54% of the women had experienced some form of sexual assault” (Abbey, 1). Regarding alcohol, at least half of these sexual assaults have involved alcohol by either party or both (Abbey, 1). These statistics are not to excuse or explain any sexual assault behavior, they are merely to establish the relationship between sexual assault and alcohol. While woman maybe at a higher risk of sexual assault, it is not their responsibility be the sober one, or the alert one at the party. In an ideal world, women should be able to drink the same as men without the risk of sexual assault. Unfortunately, with the presence of alcohol, woman are at a higher risk of being sexually assaulted.

Being a current college student, I am acutely aware of sexual assault in my social life. This heightened awareness is for my own physical protection. What I have consistently seen is the relationship between alcohol and sexual assault, and some of these conversations are very toxic. Occasionally, people say that women should be the ones to be more aware of their alcohol intake. But why is it the woman’s responsibility when she is the victim? I believe that if we start talking more about alcohol and sexual assault to men, then the statistics will change.

Alcohol is often used to excuse sexual assault, thus making the victims feel guilty because they were drinking. There are a lot of common victim blaming phrases like “boys will be boys” or calling the woman “a drunk” or “a slut,” saying that the woman should have done x, y and z in order to avoid being assaulted. These excuses are unacceptable and further prevent women to come forward with their own sexual assault. Unfortunately, a lot of college women do not report their sexual assault because of victim blaming and the relationship with alcohol. From a study done in 2000 it was reported that more than 90% of college sexual assault victims do not report their assault (Cullen, Fisher, Turner).

With the recent explosion of women coming forward with their sexual assault stories, it is clear that one in three women experience some sort of sexual violence (NSVRC). The response from the Republican senators at the Kavanaugh hearings clearly shows the climate of toxic masculinity is indifferent to sexual assault.

If you have been assaulted, you need a lawyer. Do not be afraid to come forward. DC Student Defense is here to help you. We have a lot of experience with sexual assault and will cater our services to your needs. Whatever your situation is, call us and we are here to help.

These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

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