The article Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault: College Women’s Risk Perception and Behavioral Choices (2008) was published in the 57th volume of Journal of American College Health in Miami, Florida. Written by Miami University professors Zachary Birchmeier, Emily Crawford, and Margaret O’Dougherty, the paper discusses the study they made on drug-facilitated sexual assault of female college students.
This article was chosen for this review because date rape is one of the topics discussed in class. Also, statistics show that 1 out of 5 college women are raped in their college years (Birchmeier, Crawford, and O’Dougherty, 2008). However, most women would tend to not call it rape because the person who sexually assaulted them is an acquaintance.
The study focused on investigating “the relationships among prior victimization, risk perception, and behavioral choices in responding to the potential danger of drug-facilitated sexual assault at a prototypical college party where alcohol is available (p. 262).” Going into the study, the authors have two hypotheses: first is that women with histories of sexual assault would feel that they are less capable of refusing or avoiding unwanted sexual advances, and the second is that women with history of sexual assault would make “riskier behavioral choices” compared to non-victims in situations of possible danger.
Participants of the study are 406 female students of Miami University in 2003 to 2004, mostly in their freshman and sophomore year and with an average age of 18.71 years old.
Results of the study show that the first hypothesis is unsupported: women who previously experienced sexual assault does not think that they are less capable than non-victims in warding off unwanted sexual advances; there is a lack of significant difference in degree of impact of the situations. On the other hand, the second hypothesis was validated as study participants who experienced previous sexual assault made riskier behavioral choices than non-victim participants; they are more likely to accept an offer of a ride by a male acquaintance as well as accept an offer to help them up to their bedroom, reasons of which are unclear (Birchmeier, et. al, 2008).
The study also shows that even if participants are aware of the symptoms of date rape drugs and its similarity to alcohol intoxication, the possibility of being drugged did not occur to them while accomplishing the questionnaire. It also shows that women do not prepare themselves for the possibility of being sexually assaulted by an acquaintance and are much more prepared for the possibility of being sexually assaulted by a stranger.
The paper stresses that for sexual assault risk-reduction programs to be effective, the programs should be designed accordingly: for women with previous experience of sexual assault, the program should focus on empowerment, assertiveness, and communication skills training. On the other hand, for women without previous experience in sexual assault a program discussing rape statistics, myths and effective response to risk should be developed.
Birchmeier, Z., Crawford, E. & O’Dougherty, M. (2008). Drug-facilitated sexual assault: College women’s risk perception and behavioral choices. Journal of American College Health, 57(3). 261-272.