Alcohol and Sexual Violence

RCNI Press Release – April 20th, 2012

RCNI launch information campaign on the relationship between alcohol and sexual violence

Calling time on Sexual Violence and Alcohol: the facts

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) today announced a new series of fact sheets highlighting the relationship between alcohol and sexual violence. The briefings, which will be distributed monthly via the RCNI blog, aims to reduce sexual violence by challenging our consumption and attitudes to alcohol.

The first fact sheet will provide an overview of the relationship between alcohol and sexual violence. The Rape and Justice in Ireland (RAJI) Report revealed very high levels of alcohol involvement in rape, with over 76% of all rape defendants in the RAJI study stating that they had been drinking at the time of the rape.

RCNI Director, Fiona Neary, urged people to follow and share the blog to get informed and begin to create the change necessary to reduce sexual violence levels and improve our responses to sexual violence in Ireland.

Fiona Neary RCNI Director said: ‘it is time to get informed about alcohol and sexual violence given that the presence of alcohol has significant negative impacts before, during and after a sexual assault. For example 88% of defendants on trial for rape whose alcohol consumption was known had been binge drinking at the time of the rape.

Not only is it imperative everyone examines their own attitudes and consumption but it is also important we inform ourselves so that we can support the full implementation of the new National Substance Misuse Strategy which has a range of recommendations designed to reduce the harm, amongst them sexual violence, to Irish society of alcohol consumption.

We hope that the regular distribution of these fact sheets will target alcohol use as part of the response in reducing rates of sexual violence in Ireland. Although alcohol does not cause sexual violence it may be used to excuse violent behaviour, to blame victims, and to incapacitate victims. We are hoping that policy makers, community leaders, youth workers, voluntary organisations and many other groups will help us to distribute these fact sheets to a much wider audience’.

The first fact sheet highlights alcohol involvement in incidences of rape; Irish drinking habits and sexual violence; and methods of targeting harmful alcohol use. The second blog will look at perpetrator drinking patterns, victims’ drinking patterns and acquaintance and domestic sexual violence in Ireland.

-Ends-

To receive the regular blog updates log on to rcni.wordpress.com for the full briefing document, referencing and fact sheet titled Alcohol and Sexual Violence: the extent of the Problem in Ireland.

For more information contact

Cliona Saidlear on

087 – 2196447 or cliona@rcni.ie

Note to Editor: More Facts and Information

Alcohol and Sexual Violence Fact Sheet: the extent of the problem in Ireland 

In 2009, the Rape and Justice in Ireland Report (RAJI) revealed very high levels of alcohol involvement in rape in Ireland. Although alcohol does not cause sexual violence it may be used to excuse violent behaviour, to blame victims, and to incapacitate victims. Alcohol may also contribute to situations in which sexual violence is more likely to occur.

 Alcohol Involvement in incidences of rape:

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>76% of all rape defendants in the RAJI study had been drinking at the time of the alleged rape.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>70% of women in the RAJI study reported drinking at the time they were raped.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>Alcohol was involved in over 45% of adult women’s unwanted sexual experiences.

Irish Drinking Habits:

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>26% of those who had consumed alcohol in a 30 day period had consumed five or more drinks compared to EU average of 10%.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>The frequency of binge drinking in Ireland is the highest in Europe: 44% of Irish respondents who had consumed alcohol in the past 12 months indicating that they had been binge drinking at least once a week.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>Patterns for youth alcohol consumption in Ireland echo adult patterns: 42% of boys and 44% of girls aged 15-16 reporting binge-drinking during the previous month.

Irish Drinking Habits and Sexual Violence in Ireland:

Although little research has been done to assess the impact of the level of alcohol consumption on the likelihood of sexual violence, it stands to reason that binge drinking will multiply many of the effects associated with alcohol that impair recognition, response and sense of responsibility by perpetrators in sexually violent incidents.

 In Ireland, the levels of binge drinking on the occasion of a rape are extraordinarily high: 

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>88% of defendants on trial for rape whose alcohol consumption was known had been binge drinking at the time of the rape.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>45% of complainants and 40% of suspects of reported rape between 2000 and 2005 in Ireland had been binge drinking on the occasion of the rape.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>As many as 10% of victims who reported rape to Gardaí were so intoxicated from alcohol as to be unable to offer physical or verbal resistance.

Targeting harmful alcohol use as a means of reducing sexual violence: the possibilities

No direct causal link exists between alcohol consumption, at any level, and the perpetration of sexual violence. Nevertheless, harmful alcohol use can and should be targeted as part of the response in reducing rates of sexual violence in Ireland.  Possibilities include:

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>Educational programmes that address cultural expectations towards alcohol-related behaviour.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>Messaging and actions that address supply of and access to alcohol such as outlined in the Steering

<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>Group Report On a National Substance Misuse Strategy February 2012. Further research on the impact of alcohol reduction programmes on sexual violence reduction.

For further information please contact:

Cliona Saidlear, Tel: 087 – 2196447

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