The Relationship Between Sexual Assault and Alcohol
Did you know that alcohol can be a factor in sexual assaults? Alcohol use does not cause sexual assault, however, drinking alcohol can increase the chances of sexual assault. A report that surveyed Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard personnel found that nearly two thirds of total assaults among women and almost half of total assaults among men involved alcohol. If you or those around you choose to drink alcohol, it’s important to know what you can do to stay safe while enjoying a few beverages.
What can you do?
- Own your limit. Make sure you know what your personal limit is and what a standard drink looks like to be prepared for a night out. Everyone has a different drinking limit, so don’t let anyone else decide how much you will drink.
- Model responsible drinking. By choosing to drink responsibly, you are setting an example for those around you. Take turns being the designated driver for the group or help your buddies stick to their limit during the night. Setting an example for your friends to follow can go a long way to avoid unsafe actions.
- Check your drinking. Remember to check in on yourself throughout the night (hint: taking a break outside to get some air can help measure how you feel). Know that drinking does impair your judgment, so you might not be able to make the same decision you would if you were sober. If you feel you’ve had too much to drink, you can always switch to non-alcoholic beverages like water, stop drinking or have a friend take you home.
- Have a plan…and a back-up plan. It’s just as important to plan ahead as it is to end your night on a good note. Remember to eat a solid meal and hydrate ahead of time. If you choose to drink, only drink something that you poured yourself, that’s made in front of you or that comes in a pre-sealed container (and don’t drink something that has been left unattended). When it’s time to leave, make sure you have a safe way home or a trusted friend you can call as a backup.
- Feel empowered to say no to another drink. If you’re not feeling it, use phrases like, “I have an early morning tomorrow” or “I just finished one – I’m good for now.” No means no. Stay strong in your choice and remember, you don’t have to explain your decisions to anyone.
If you or someone you know is affected by sexual assault, get help 24/7 at the DOD Safe Helpline or call 877-995-5247 to talk to someone. All services are confidential or anonymous. You can also use the app, get group support or find resources on your base or in your local community.