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Write a report on the topic - Perpetrators of Alcohol-Involved Sexual Assaults: How Do They Differ From Other Sexual Assault Perpetrators and Non-perpetrators?

Differences between Sexual Offenders and Non-perpetrators

Sexual assault has been defined as offenses that involve rape and other types of non-consensual sexual contacts including the verbally forced sexual contact. According to research, 90 per cent of all victims of sexual offenses are women. This study explores the sexual mannerisms among perpetrators that abuse alcohol and the non-alcohol involved abusers. In this regard, the study entails inquiry into behaviors of men who have committed sexual assault, men who have committed sexual assault without alcohol and men who have not committed sexual assault.

Perpetrators of sexual assault are markedly different from non-perpetrators on their sexual behaviors, anti-social mannerisms and alcohol related tendencies. Brown and Forth (1997) observed that incarcerated sexual offenders often depicted anti social behaviors. Such persons were also reported to have little regard for social norms. Generally sexual offenders have been found to bear diminished social skills as compared to non-perpetrators (Geer et al., 1997). Studies on persons that exhibit sexual offensive tendencies lead to a combination of factors including impulsiveness, aggressiveness and lack of empathy.

The age at which men begin their sexual activity is also a determinant of sexually aggressive behavoiur. According to Abbey (1998), Kanin (1985) and others, men who began engaging in sexual activity at a young age were more likely to commit sexual offenses as compared to men who are not sexually active. The perception of men towards women also influenced their propensity to commit sexual offenses. In this regard, men in this category assumed that the women were sexually attracted to them and were desirous of sex. Consequently, they felt entitled to sex because of the feeling that the men led them on.  The perception of men about women was also blamed for sexual assault tendencies. Society defines women based on the perception that they are the gatekeepers while men are the pursuers regarding sex (Rapaport and Burkhart, 1984). Connected to this thinking is the view that when women decline the sexual advances of men, they actually mean to politely accept and were doing so to invite men into a chase.

Studies have linked sexual assault behavior to alcohol. Sexual offenses are more likely to take place among partners who drank alcohol together compared to those that spent time without consuming the drink. Sexual offenses involving alcohol are more likely among persons known to the victim in a casual way.  Regarding sexual assaults among alcohol and non-alcohol perpetrators were similar based on the person that paid the most expenses during the outing (Zawacki,  Abbey, Buck, McAuslan and Clinton?Sherrod, 2003). Bushman and Cooper (1990) have found a direct correlation between alcohol abuse and sexually aggressive behavoiur. Alcohol affects the motor functioning of individuals and as a result, leads to minimal resistance in a rape ordeal.

The study involved men who were in college who participated in a survey to determine their prior perception of sexual assault, measures of their personality traits and mannerisms. The observations were examined against literature on men’s anti-social and sex-related behaviors. Previous studies revealed that antisocial behavior was a common trait in both alcohol and non-alcohol-involved perpetrators. With regard to alcohol-related behavior, men who had previously committed sexual offenses under the influence of alcohol depicted a higher tendency to its use consumption in their social lives (Chermack and Giancola,1997). Alcohol involved perpetrators revealed a greater tendency towards drinking in sexual situations in the belief that alcohol enhances sexual prowess compare to non-perpetrators and non alcohol-involved perpetrators.

Sexually Aggressive Behaviour

A total of 356 participants who were urban male drawn from Midwestern University were involved in the study. The ages of the participants ranged between 19-48 years and were a mix of Caucasian (57%), African-American (30%), Arabic or Middle-Eastern (6%), Asian or Pacific Islander (3%), Hispanic (2%) and those with ethnic background nor those that declined to answer the question (2%). All the participants were single men engaged in some form of employment. The recruitment was done with the help of a list from the registrar’s office. In addition, announcements about the research were done in classrooms. Regarding diversities in areas of studies, participants were drawn from business, health sciences, Liberal arts, education, science, engineering, communications law and psychology in various proportions.

The participants were contacted through the phone by a research assistant. Participants who qualified were asked to fill a questionnaire through a survey done in small groups within the classroom set-up. Participants returned the filled questionnaire to the experimenter in a sealed envelope and were given a token of $ 20 for participating.

Sexual offenses committed in adulthood and during adolescence are measured using the sexual experiences survey (SES). This tool captures actions perpetrated by an individual from the age of 14 years using behaviorally specific items (Jackson, 1974). In this study, kissing and fondling devoid of sexual contact was examined alongside verbally instigated sexual behaviors. In addition, seven actions that met the legal definition of sex were considered. The study also sought to identify delinquent behavior among participants by examining the number of times they had been involved in a selected list of specific behaviors before attaining the age of 18 years. Among the behaviors considered for this study included shoplifting and damaging of school property. Furthermore, participants ‘personality traits were gauged on the domains of aggressiveness, impulsivity, dominance and empathy.

The extent to which the respondents held sex-related beliefs were examined through the answering of several leading questions. Respondents were also asked to indicate their frequency of dating based on a six-point scale. Furthermore, the researcher sought to know how often the participants engaged in casual sex.

The researcher sought information about their drinking patterns through a set of questions. Participants were asked to indicate how often they drank alcohol and the amount ordinarily consumed. An inquiry was also done to establish how much participants drank in situations of consensual sex and the variance of this drinking pattern when they misperceived a woman’s friendliness as an invitation for sex (Mosher, Anderson,1986). These questions were designed to measure the aspect of drinking during misperception.

The results of the study revealed that 42% of the participants had never abused a woman sexually while the rest admitted to the offense from the minor age of 14 years. 9% of the men engaged in sexual activity forcibly while 31% did so through coercion. A further 14% were engaged in complete rape with their victims. Results also revealed that 96% of the perpetrators knew their victims.

A measure of discrimination function analysis (DFA) was done to establish the penetration group based on probabilities of membership including non-perpetrators (42%), non-alcohol involved perpetrators (24.6%) and alcohol involved perpetrators (31.2%). The results were presented in a table and it was established that the variables of frequency of dating, social skills and empathy did not significantly influence the perpetrators’ behavior. Alcohol-involved perpetrators showed greater monthly consumption than the non-alcohol perpetrators and depicted more impulse in behavoiur. Sexual myths about women also led to greater alcohol consumption among the alcohol-involved perpetrators.

Mannerisms and Personality Traits of Sexual Offenders

Based on the legal definition of rape or attempted rape, 18% of the participants reported that they had committed the act while 58% reported that they had been involved in some form of sexual offense. Of all the perpetrators, 44% of the respondents were alcohol-involved. The research also revealed a close relationship between sexual offenders and occurrence of anti-social behavoiur. Individuals who held the attitudes that supported aggressive behavoiur towards women were highly likely to commit a sexual offense and they did so to enforce their dominant feeling (Kosson and Kelly,  White, 1997). Alcohol –induced perpetrators held the belief that increased alcohol consumption heightened sexual pleasure (Burt, M. R. (1980). In addition, these individuals held the view that a drinking woman signified an interest in sex.

Myths and beliefs about sex also determined the extent of sexual offenses among alcohol abusers. The thinking that drinking among women is a signal of sexual interest might enforce the practice of sexually offensive behavior when an individual drinks with a woman (Senn, Desmarais, Verberg and Wood, 2000). According to Abbey (1991) the misperception held by men regarding the sexual intention of women are likely to lead men to feel justified to engage in forced sex. Impulsive men have a high propensity towards aggressive sex when under the influence of alcohol.

In the present study, a cross sectional design was employed but it can only identify the casual relationships. Other variables not considered for this research may influence sexual behavior significantly. The findings of this study need to be replicated to other scenarios to establish the strength of relationships between the variables. Further research could explore such scenarios as the perpetrator drinking alone or with company and also consider situations where the victim drinks alone. Further research needs to be conducted to establish how alcohol influences the interpretation of sex risks among women. Although the research draws a connection between the consumption of alcohol and the likelihood of sexual offences, it neither apportions blame to the victim nor absolves the perpetrator. The results of this study cannot be generalized because they were specific to campus students who depict sexual characteristics at rates that are much higher than the societal mean. Researchers are therefore encouraged to replicate the study in a different environment other than a school.

Based on the findings of this research, preventive measures should be put in place to confront the crime. It has been established through the study that myths and misconceptions about women’s intent in having sex have often led to the perpetration of the offense. Corrective messages must be sent out to men who drink. Men predominantly perceived women who drink as expressing their desire to engage in sex. In this regard, corrective measures should target misperception regarding sexual drive and the consumption of alcohol. Men can learn a lot about women’s perception through conversations initiated through role playing. Drinking should be disconnected to sexual activity in order to debunk the prevailing myths on sexual pleasure which propagate forced sex.

References

Abbey, A., Ross, L. T., McDuffie, D., & McAuslan, P. (1996). Alcohol, misperception, and sexual assault: How and why are they linked. Sex, power, conflict: Evolutionary and feminist perspectives, 138-161.

Brown, S. L., & Forth, A. E. (1997). Psychopathy and sexual assault: Static risk factors, emotional precursors, and rapist subtypes. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 65(5), 848.

Burt, M. R. (1980). Cultural myths and supports for rape. Journal of personality and social psychology, 38(2), 217.

Bushman, B. J., & Cooper, H. M. (1990). Effects of alcohol on human aggression: An intergrative research review. Psychological bulletin, 107(3), 341.

Chermack, S. T., & Giancola, P. R. (1997). The relation between alcohol and aggression: An integrated biopsychosocial conceptualization. Clinical psychology review, 17(6), 621-649.

Geer, J. H., Estupinan, L. A., & Manguno-Mire, G. M. (2000). Empathy, social skills, and other relevant cognitive processes in rapists and child molesters. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 5(1), 99-126.

Jackson, D. N. (1974). Personality research form manual. research psychologists press.

Kanin, E. J. (1985). Date rapists: Differential sexual socialization and relative deprivation. Archives of sexual behavior, 14(3), 219-231.

Kosson, D. S., Kelly, J. C., & White, J. W. (1997). Psychopathy-related traits predict self-reported sexual aggression among college men. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 12(2), 241-254.

Mosher, D. L., & Anderson, R. D. (1986). Macho personality, sexual aggression, and reactions to guided imagery of realistic rape. Journal of Research in Personality, 20(1), 77-94.

Rapaport, K., & Burkhart, B. R. (1984). Personality and attitudinal characteristics of sexually coercive college males. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 93(2), 216.

Senn, C. Y., Desmarais, S., Verberg, N., & Wood, E. (2000). Predicting coercive sexual behavior across the lifespan in a random sample of Canadian men. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 17(1), 95-113.

Zawacki, T., Abbey, A., Buck, P. O., McAuslan, P., & Clinton?Sherrod, A. M. (2003). Perpetrators of alcohol?involved sexual assaults: How do they differ from other sexual assault perpetrators and nonperpetrators?. Aggressive Behavior: Official Journal of the International Society for Research on Aggression, 29(4), 366-380.

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