Objective: Heavy alcohol use is widespread among college
students, particularly in those social situations where the risk of rape rises.
Few studies have provided information on rapes of college women that
occur when they are intoxicated. The purpose of the present study was to
present prevalence data for rape under the condition of intoxication when
the victim is unable to consent and to identify college and individual-level
risk factors associated with that condition.
Method: The study utilizes data
from 119 schools participating in three Harvard School of Public Health
College Alcohol Study surveys. The analytic sample of randomly selected
students includes 8,567 women in the 1997 survey, 8,425 in the 1999 survey,
and 6,988 in the 2001 survey.
Results: Roughly one in 20 (4.7%)
women reported being raped. Nearly three quarters (72%) of the victims
experienced rape while intoxicated. Women who were under 21, were
white, resided in sorority houses, used illicit drugs, drank heavily in high
school and attended colleges with high rates of heavy episodic drinking
were at higher risk of rape while intoxicated.
Conclusions: The high proportion
of rapes found to occur when women were intoxicated indicates
the need for alcohol prevention programs on campuses that address sexual
assault, both to educate men about what constitutes rape and to advise
women of risky situations. The findings that some campus environments
are associated with higher levels of both drinking and rape will help target
rape prevention programs at colleges.