Victims of Sexual Assault Remember – Intoxicated or Not

sexual-assaultBad decisions are a byproduct of consuming alcohol, especially for young adults who are ignorant of their limits. For many young adults, drinking as much as you can as fast as you can is synonymous with Friday and Saturday night – a practice that is referred to as binge drinking. While heavy drinking affects men and women in equally adverse ways, women are far more susceptible to life changing outcomes. Every day, women are sexually assaulted and sadly such events often go unreported due to the insidious trend of “victim blaming.”

When women do find the courage to report their assault, if alcohol is involved authorities will often wait until a victim sobers up to interview them. However, new research suggests that women who are intoxicated may remember less than sober victims, but the details they provide were found to be just as accurate, The Daily Mail reports. The findings show that sexual assault victims should be interviewed even when they are under the influence.

Developing New Guidelines

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Leicester in the U.K. Their findings are being used to revise police procedure by the Crown Prosecution Service and Leicestershire Police, according to the article.

“It has been a long held misconception that victims and witnesses who are intoxicated are not able to give as good an account as they would when they are sober,” says Detective Inspector Reme Gibson, from Leicestershire Police’s Rape Investigation Unit. “The delays in speaking with victims accounts sometimes for loss of potential evidence. I hope these findings better support future investigations, particularly in the sexual violence arena which is already often complex and not without challenges.”

Victim Blaming

Polly Neate, chief executive of the charity Women’s Aid, hopes that the findings will help change people’s perceptions about sexual assault and end victim blaming so that people will report their assaults, the article reports.

“It is vital that we move away from the culture of shaming women that pervades our society and prevents women from accessing justice,” said Neate. “All too often the victim’s behaviour is called into question – she was drunk, she was wearing a short skirt – rather than the perpetrator’s actions. This research is a step in the right direction, as it proves that the effects of alcohol have little bearing on a victim’s testimony. We hope that the criminal justice system will take this research seriously.”

Traumatic events can lead to serious psychological problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Left untreated, many will turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate – resulting in addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with PTSD and/or addiction, please contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you start your journey of recovery.

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