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Is Alcohol used as Ammo in Sexual Assault?

Is Alcohol used as Ammo in Sexual Assault?

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They say we always hurt the ones we love the most, and too many young people have been raised in homes where that meant violence enacted against them or upon one parent from the other. Beyond that sexual assault is a terrible and tragic reality in the world today, claiming the lives of thousands of women every year, and destroying homes and families.

Sexual assault is defined as an involuntary sexual act in which a person is coerced or physically forced to engage in. Today both military and civilian prosecutors are beginning to take a groundbreaking approach to cases involving sexual assault and the use of alcohol by defining it as a weapon.

Facts of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is any non-consensual sexual touching of a person, and as considered a form of sexual violence includes:

  • Rape
  • Domestic Violence
  • Groping
  • Forcedkissing
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Tortureof the person in a sexual manner

In legal terms, sexual assault is a statutory offense in various jurisdictions, including the United States. The legal definition of the crime of sexual assault is determined by each jurisdiction, but all forms of sexual assault can have severe residual effects on an individual who has been attacked.

Statistics of Sexual Assault

Girls ages 16–19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. Ages 12-34 are the highest risk years. But the victims are not limited to this demographic. The victims of sexual assault come in all forms, and it is estimated that sexual assault also has different drastic effects. Victims of sexual assault are believed by experts to be:

  • 3 times more likely to suffer from depression
  • 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder
  • 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol
  • 26 times more likely to abuse drugs
  • 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide

Nearly half of the 6,000 sexual assault cases across the Department of Defense last year reportedly involved alcohol to some extent, while a 2013 Pentagon report found the number to be closer to 1/3.

Alcohol as Ammo in US Military

The military referred to alcohol as a weapon in a sexual assault prevention guidance packet for commanders, and apparently this was not the first time someone had expressed this classification. Last May Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel mirrored these claims that alcohol was a dangerous factor in sexual assault cases.

So the US military is moving to lead the charge against sexual assault and alcohol abuse, and many experts feel that alcohols implementation as a weapon against victims, especially against women, is greatly underestimated. Katharina Booth is the chief of the Boulder District Attorney’s Office sexual assault unit, as well as the chief trial deputy. She believes alcohol is used as a weapon in sexual assault cases more than guns, threats, or fists.

Last week the United States military required Air Force Academy leaders to attend a presentation on sexual assault and the academy’s new stance on alcohol’s role in these attacks, as part of the push to re-evaluate their sexual policy. Recently Air Force academy spokesman Lt. Col. Brus Vidal made a statement regarding this shift saying,

“The issues of binge drinking and sexual assault are complex, societal challenges that all colleges and universities across the nation struggle with. The academy, like all other college campuses, is not immune to these national problems, and we remain committed to addressing and eliminating both sexual harassment and sexual assault. The academy remains firm in its commitment to vigorously combat sexual assaults and harassment through the very best awareness and prevention training and base-wide initiatives.”

This much is true. Drinking is a huge part of daily affairs on any college campus, so it is good to see the military trying to lead the way in making a change. Cadets in military schools also receive a weekly paycheck and have most of their expenses covered, meaning these students have more money to drink recklessly. Binge drinking of course becomes an issue, especially with excessive amounts of alcohol available.

The former vice superintendent at the academy Major General Irv Halter made a statement that it is not just a military problem with drinking, but that our culture today promotes drugs and alcohol as one of the highlights of our lives, and young people need to be given a better example to follow. Halter stated,

“We as a society need to figure out how to tell people that going and getting silly drunk on the weekend is not in your best interest.”

It is believed that many victims of sexual assault never report the attacks against them, often out of a misplaced sense of blame, which means the statistics we have aren’t nearly the whole problem. However, the Pentagon reported last month that 24% of military sexual assault victims reported their crimes last year, up from 11% a year earlier. In just one year there has been some change, but hopefully the future will hold a better understand and awareness across the board of alcohols influence in sexual assaults.

Sexual assault is often at the root of other conditions such as PTSD and depression, and can become a huge part of someones drug or alcohol abuse issues. Sometimes these other factors are what keep us holding onto the habits that are killing us, but there is a way out. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 

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