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Alcohol and Violence

Get Educated!

Most people are aware that alcohol is commonly associated with sexual assault and relationship violence. But what exactly is the relationship?



Alcohol and Sexual Assault

90% of sexual assaults on campus involve alcohol.

The relationship between alcohol and sexual assault is not causative: using alcohol doesn't cause sexual assault. But alcohol can be used by perpetrators to make it easier to assault someone; it's used by perpetrators and their friends as an excuse and to blame victims instead of taking the blame themselves; and it can cause victims to question what happened and wonder if they were responsible.

Using alcohol can make it more difficult to assess a situation, or to effectively stand up for yourself and maintain your boundaries. Perpetrators intentionally use alcohol and/or look for people who have already been drinking, because they know that alcohol makes it easier to victimize another person.

In Wyoming, a person under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is legally unable to consent. This means that sexual assault or rape occurred whether or not any other force was used, and whether or not an intoxicated person seemed to want to participate in any sexual activity.

If It Happened To You

If you think you were sexually assaulted while under the influence, it's not your fault. Your drinking doesn't give anyone an excuse to hurt you, and it doesn't make you responsible for what happened.

If You're Afraid of Hurting Someone ElseMy Strength

A victim of rape or sexual assault is not responsible for what happened to them, even if they were drunk at the time. If you want to get with someone but aren't sure if they're sober enough, WAIT! You can get their number, message them on Facebook, or talk to them in class next week.

If you think you may be too drunk to assess whether or not someone else is able to consent, you are still responsible for your actions. Being under the influence is no excuse for driving drunk or getting into a fight, and it's no excuse for sexually assaulting someone. If you're too intoxicated to determine if someone else can consent to sexual activity, then go home and sleep it off.

Staying Safe

It's important to drink responsibly, whether or not you are concerned about sexual assault. There is more information available about alcohol on campus at the AWARE program

If you are going out and want to take some steps to reduce your risk of being a victim, think about:

  • Not drinking much, or not drinking at all.
  • Having a plan to get home.
  • Watching your drink and watching your friends.
  • Staying with friends you trust, and having a designated sober person.

It's important to remember:

  • NOT taking steps to keep yourself safe does not make you responsible! Just because you had a lot to drink or went out by yourself instead of with friends doesn't mean that you deserve to be hurt at all.
  • Taking steps to keep yourself safe isn't a guarantee. Alcohol doesn't cause rape, so not using alcohol doesn't prevent rape. If you are a victim, regardless of your situation, please consider talking to us. We can help you understand what happened and why, and we can talk about what options you have and how to pursue them.

Victims of sexual assault are never responsible, even if they have been drinking. If you have questions or want to talk about something that happened, contact the STOP Violence office or the Albany County SAFE Project.


Alcohol and Relationship Violence

When people think about domestic violence or relationship violence, often they think of the abuser as an "angry drunk." But just as with sexual assault, alcohol doesn't cause abuse in a relationship. So why is that the stereotype?

Alcohol use doesn't cause relationship violence, but it can make the violence worse. Abusers are usually in control during an abusive episode -- they only use as much force as necessary to get what they want, and they do what they can to keep the violence secret. However, when an abuser is using alcohol, they lose some of that control. Physical abuse can be more severe, leading to 911 calls and hospital visits where other people find out what is happening. Abusers may forget to take steps to keep their secret -- they may leave windows open or start an abusive episode outside or in public, where other people can hear and see what is happening.

Abusers also blame alcohol for their actions. Instead of taking responsibility for trying to control their partner, abusers blame their drinking. They go to AA for help instead of going to counseling to stop being violent.

People who are being abused by a partner can also develop alcohol and substance abuse issues to cope with the trauma and stress of the relationship. Recovery from substance abuse caused by relationship violence may take more support than recovery for people who haven't been victimized.

If you are in an abusive relationship, contact STOP Violence or the Albany County SAFE Project to get information and help.

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