Women, drinking, sexual assault and perceptions

There have been some interesting studies recently published regarding women and drinking. It’s always interesting to find studies with female participants since so few in the past have looked at gender differences in relation to substance abuse. Here are some highlights and links:

CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) reported that more than 20% of sexual assaults were drug-facilitated in a study that looked at data from 882 victims at 7 different hospital-based sexual assault/domestic violence treatment centers in Canada. Almost 90% of the victims self-reported having alcohol right before the assault, and 30% had taken prescription or illicit drugs at least 72 hours before the assault. In addition, victims were more likely to be employed and from an urban area. The study concluded that education and public awareness campaigns around the effects of alcohol, especially combined with drugs, is needed.

Read the press release: More than 20 percent of sexual assaults drug-facilitated (from CMAJ)
View the study details: Factors associated with suspected drug-facilitated sexual assault (from CMAJ)

Another study looked at the stigma of mental illness and how gender played a role in people’s perceptions of a person with a mental health disorder. The national survey found that people held more anger and disgust for a stereotypical alcoholic who was male, but showed less sympathy toward the woman when she showed classical symptoms of major depression. The results showed that respondents’ perceptions played into the stereotypes that men are more likely to be violent alcoholics and women are more likely to be depressed and “pathologically dependent.”

Read more: His and Hers: Study Examines the Role of Gender in the Stigma of Mental-Illness (from Association for Psychological Science)

Finally, a recent survey of 3,616 college students at 2 American universities concluded that women overestimate the amount of alcohol they think men want them to consume. And those that overestimate this amount tend to drink excessively as a result. These findings illustrate that a woman’s belief that men find excessive drinking sexually attractive and appealing, found in previous studies, is a misperception.

Read more: Young Women May Be Drinking Heavily To Get Attention Of Opposite Sex, But Men Not Impressed (from Science Daily)

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