The 21st century has seen a lot of developments especially in the human social set-up. While some of these developments contribute to the enhancement of the well-being of individuals, others contribute the moral degradation of family and cultural values. The nature of human beings to copy each other’s culture, environmental influence and the fourth estate are seen as the main factors contributing to the perpetuation of both the bad and good sides of social cultural developments in the wider society set-up.
Among the American youth, alcohol and the “Hook Up” culture top the list of the factors that have hugely affected socio-cultural development. Recent statistics indicates that in the year 2012, over 60.3 percent of the youth aged between 18 and 22 were involved in alcohol consumption. Out of these, 40.1 percent were involved in (binge) drinking i.e. taking five more drinks on an occasion. On the other hand, the report indicates that 14.4 percent of same were involved in heavy drinking i.e. consuming five or more on an occasion or more occasions per month (NIAAA). The high percentage of the American youth engaging in drinking alcohol is worrying and, as such, authorities need to step up efforts towards prevention.
Although many scholars have linked heavy drinking to the rampant cases of sexual assaults experienced among the youth in the US, this problem is never given the appropriate attention it needs. Sexual assault is simply non-consensual sexual contact that occurs between individual through forceful means. It is one form of sexual violence that often happens to women both young and adults. Sexual assault is not an indication of uncontrolled desire or excitement. It is important to note that, rather it is behavioural act. Sexual assault occurs at many socioeconomic levels of the society (Chu 8).
Part of the reasons why sexual assaults get little attention is the disagreements regarding the role of alcohol in sexual assault cases: Consequently, this has become a stumbling block in the formulation of prevention strategies. It is true that traditional myths that justify drinking as explanation for rape are a reality (Leonard). Due to such myths, some advocates are of the view that acknowledging the pervasive role of binge drinking in assaults may be viewed largely as blaming the victim. While the overall responsibility of sexual assault is pegged on the perpetrator, assuming the role of alcohol will only escalate the problem (Leonard/ria).
Hook up culture, on the other hand, refers to the short sexual encounters that occur between people who are neither romantic partners nor dating one another. It is a culture that has been on the rise in recent times and especially among college students and emerging adults. This hook up culture seems to have quickly impacted on the traditional forms of courting and pursuing romantic relationships (Heldman & Wade 324).
There are no clear reasons that motivate students to hook up. When asked to give explanations for hook up, students gave various details including physical pleasure and passionate reasons. Others said they wanted a relationship with no string attached. However, a majority of the studies done on the same agree that the motivation for either gender to hook up is to form a lasting relationship (Garcia, Massey, Merriwether, & Chris 161).
There are many consequences that result from the hook up culture and include emotional and psychological injury, sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies and most importantly, sexual assault. In the latter case, hook up culture contributes because it creates a mentality that sex is a mere act of pleasure that is meant for personal gratification. In the event that one of the involved individuals changes their mind, then that creates an environment for confrontation and sexual assault (Garcia, Massey, Merriwether, & Chris 164).
Sex crimes, like any other crimes, create much fear in the society. This usually happens because of the huge implications that the crime has on the victims. Different people in the society view the perpetrators i.e. sex offenders and sexual abuse differently mainly because of the differences in beliefs about sexual assault. Studies have shown that culture plays a huge role with regards to sex crimes.
Cultural dynamics has influenced the view of sexual assaults. The emergence of such cultures as “hook up” culture has provided new grounds for the perpetuation of the sex crimes. Hook up culture i.e. a brief uncommitted sexual encounters occurring among persons that are not in any way involved in a romantic relationship or dating is becoming progressively more entrenched in popular culture (Paul, McManus & Hayes 173).
The mainstream media has been very critical in promoting this form of culture. For instance, the release of films such as the ‘Hooking up’ which show disordered and starry-eyed sexual lives of teenage students contribute to the promotion of this culture (Garcia, Reiber and Massey). The popular shows on television have been on the forefront portraying the culture as not only acceptable but also sensible (Heldman & Wade 327).
This culture is more visible among college students and is favoured by the fact that the college compasses provide an excellent environment for it to thrive. The fact that students engage in non-committal relationships acts as an incentive for many students to practice as they often fear commitments. The flip side of this culture, however, is that provides a fertile ground for committing sexual crimes. It is believed that hook up culture has contributed to the now rape culture that is prevalent in most university colleges (Paul, McManus & Hayes 175).
This culture while it may have its positive side, it is also seen to contribute to sexual violence. In a popular cases, hook up beliefs is associated with alcohol. A study conducted in 2007 showed that majority of college sexual meetings are in parties where alcohol and other liquors are present. Upon taking alcohol, the partners then engage in sexual activities. In the event that the lady declines, then instances of sexual violence such as rape ensue. Many people do not even talk to their hook-ups afterward; instead, they go home and tell their friends (Heldman & Wade 328).
Some cultural norms act as predisposing factors to the perpetuation of sex offences. In a way therefore, the influence of such cultures play an important role in advancing sex crimes. Cultural norms such as honouring men, masculinity and the assumptions that men are entitled to sex contribute immensely towards the continuation of sexual assaults in many ways. In societies that recognise male superiority in terms of their dominance and physical strength it is often the case that rape crimes are more common (Feldhaus, Houry & Kaminsky 25).
In some societies, the women are required to respect their men and always meet their demands including being sexually available virtually without limit. In the event that these women refuse, chances of being sexually assaulted become very high. Even outside marriage, such women find it very difficult to say no to sexual advances by other men and if they do, the men can decide to rape them and still escape because the cultural norms favour them. Cultural norms that tend to have a low opinion of women but promote male dominance and aggressiveness often create a subculture that to a large extent, permits sexual violence (Feldhaus, Houry & Kaminsky 26).
When looking at sexual crimes as a leant behaviour, one finds that the social conditions, for example, the existing perceptions about sex help in moulding the behaviour of rapists within the context of the broader social system. The consequence of this is that it fosters a rape-prone environment and essentially teaching men to rape. A study to find the underlying causes of sexual violence linked the vice to the cultural norms in the society that tend to favour male aggressiveness and male dominance (Feldhaus, Houry & Kaminsky 27).
Cultural perceptions especially on the part of the fatalities of sexual attack also contribute to the continuity of sex crimes. A study on public perception showed that victims are often blamed for the assault. In many cases, they are perceived as the ones who provoke the assault and, as such, enjoy the act. This blame game shifts the attention from seeking preventive measures and contributes to the continuity of the sex crimes.
The myths about rape are often perplexing. For instance, rape myths often present the victim/woman as the one on the wrong while it excuses the offender. The myth is pegged along the belief that rape occurs simply because men do not have the ability to control their sexual impulses. In addition, the myth insinuates that a rape occurs as a result of “indecent” dressing; an indication that “she asked for it.” The problem with this is that it becomes difficult to protect the victim as they are viewed as having invited their problems (Deming, Coven, Swan, & Billings 468).
While research points to the declining acceptance of the rape myth and perceptions of victims as contributing to sex crime, the myth still remains deeply entrenched in the culture. This can be deduced from the way the media handles sexual assault cases. The media also double up as an indicator of public perception as it reflects people’s cultural attitudes and beliefs. A study to determine the role of the media in the perpetuation of the rape myth belief showed that the media laid the blame on the victim as opposed to the offender (Schiavone, Levenson & Ackerman 292).
Social Science Aspects
The perception that has been creates along the historical realms has been that sexual assault offences are committed by strangers and not by the people close to the victim. This is, however, a misconception as statistics indicate that a large portion of sexual assault cases are committed by people well known to the victims and over 70% of the victims of rape previously known to their assailants (Kelly, Lovett & Regan 47). Much of this perception is perpetuated by the fact that most of the cases involving known assailants go unreported. Reports indicate that only 18 percent of cases involving known cases are reported while over 79 percent of sexual assaults involving strangers are reported (Feldhaus, Houry & Kaminsky, 25).
The most commonly reported type offender is acquaintances at 26 percent followed by relatives at 23.7 percent, current or ex-spouses at 21.2 percent, current or ex-partners at 18.4 percent, strangers at 16.9 percent and two or more offenders at 13.3 percent (Feldhaus, Houry & Kaminsky, 27).
Research on how the sexual assault cases are reported brings a new dimension into the whole issue sexual offences. Evidence suggests that a sexual crimes which happen within homes, in many cases, would encompass persons who have had intimate relationship (Examining the relationship between sexual offenders). Also, it has been established that the majority of the offences occur either in the victim’s residence or the assailant’s residence. On the contrary, sexual offences with strangers often occur outdoors and are, in many cases, opportunistic in the sense that the victim could be in a state of incapacitation (Amacker & Littleton 1391).
The victim-offender relationship is also in many cases associated with the attack itself i.e. stranger offences often being associated with greater chances of coercion, force and verbal aggression often directed towards the victim throughout the time of occurrence. A large number of stranger-related offences usually occur in very tense environments and usually involve issuance of threats to the victim. In most cases, weapons are often involved in the course of the attack and result in injuries and post-rape trauma. In cases where the offender is known to the victim, there are high chances that the offender will seek interaction with the victim even after the overtly sexual part of the attack (Examining the relationship between sexual offenders).
Victim confrontation is, however, seen to be similar irrespective of whether the offender is known to the casualty or not. The post-rape consequences in both cases are shown to be similar as they exhibit similar levels of post-rape fear, depression and social maladjustment. As such, although the there could be distinct behavioural differences during the offence based on the victim-offender relationship, the victim suffers similar effects after the ordeal.
A study to unravel the nature of the behavioural differences shows that the behaviours are built around four thematic areas i.e. dominance, hostility, co-operation and submission. Dominant interpersonal behaviour is often used by offenders following the belief that it is likely to elicit submission from the victim. Co-operative behaviour, on the other hand, often invokes co-operation whereas the hostility is likely to produce hostile reaction from the victim (Porter & Alison 450).
Dominant Style of Offender Behaviour
The motivation behind an offender engaging in this behaviour is because of the high likelihood of ensuring control of the victim. While committing the offence, the offender often exercises physical control of the victim throughout the ordeal and involves tactics such as the use of gag and blindfolding the victim. This behaviour, more often than not, suppresses resistance from the victim and, as a result, forces the victim to submit (Porter & Alison 451).
Submissive Style of Offender Behaviour
This style is not used by offenders in many cases and when they do, they tend to show a submissive behaviour in which reliance on trust forms the pillar. In this approach, there is interaction between the victim and the offender; however, the offender still remains in control. As stipulated in the principles of complementarity, submissive behaviour often leads to dominant victim behaviour (Porter & Alison 454).
Co-Operative Style of Offender Behaviour
Unlike other styles of offender behaviour, here the offender makes attempts aimed at forcing the victim to take part in the attack. Such actions may, for instance, include forcing the offender to remove their clothes on their own and even kiss the offender. In this style, the offenders often engage I verbal exchange with the victim as opposed to physical interactions and maintain compliance through threatening their victim (Porter & Alison 456).
Hostility Style of Offender Behaviour
This is the most violent offender style and one that involves aggressive interaction between the offender and the victim. Sometimes the aggression behaviour is so much that it exceeds the necessary to commit the offence. On the part of the offender, it may involve use of weapon that may harm the victim while the victim may respond by screaming, or even biting the offender. This style is considered the most violent and can sometimes result into serious injuries sustained by both the offender and the victim (Porter & Alison 457).
Common Events That Precede Sexual Assault
Before sexual assault occurs, there usually are predisposing factors and situations that increase the possibility of committing a sexual crime. There are a number of theories advanced in respect of sexual assault occurrence and most of them tend to focus on the factors that trigger the behaviour in men. In addition, the theories also emphasis on how the society nurtures a background that is open-minded to sexual crime. It is, however, crucial to note that the presence of these factors does not in any way offer a justification of blaming the victim. For one, there is no woman who in her right senses would ask to be sexually assaulted. As such, it is vital not to view the risk factors as the reasons to blame the sexual assault victims.
The Models That Explain the Causes of Sexual Assault
Various models have been developed to try and explain the events that lead to sexual assault and, they include the following.
This model posits that the perpetrators of sexual violence have mental inadequacies and as such, lack the ability to control their sexual impulses. Their decision to rape is influenced by the chemical imbalances which occur within their bodies. From a medical standpoint, rapists are supposed to undergo psychotherapy, electrotherapy and hormonal check up to correct their anomalies. The psychopathology model, however, offers limited or non-convincing explanation when compared to domestic violence theory (Kelly, Lovett & Regan 32).
Learned Behaviour Model
This model proposes that the cultural norms in the society and expectations are the key factors that lead to the acceptance of sexual assault. The fact that men tend to be respected in the society creates a sense of entitlement in them and sense of superiority. Thus, this creates a flawless setting for sexual battering to flourish (Kelly, Lovett & Regan 33).
Psychological Development Model
Under this model, a common assumption is that the men who commit sexual offences have a bad history where coercion and violence were seen as a norm in a relationship. The model implies that in the course of development past relationships would have been impersonal and short-lived (Kelly, Lovett & Regan 33).
Male Dominance Model
According to this model, the males often engage in sexually assaulting women simply because they respond to the rampant social inequality that occurs between men and women. Since all along history women have been objectified, sexual assault to them is never seriously as it should. In fact, it is regarded as a mere theft of the intimate partner’s property as opposed to being viewed as a violation of the women’s rights. The fact that women have been made to feel inferior and less worthy in front of men gives men an advantage of mistreating them and taking more control over women (Kelly, Lovett & Regan 34).
Sexual Assault as an Act of Violence
This model views sexual attack as an act of non-sexual desire and one that has no biological relationship. Rather sexual assault stems from the desire of the perpetrator to exercise their power and domination over their weak victims. It views sexual assault as an act of violence against the victims with sex being taken as the weapon. The model commands a huge following especially among women activists who propose that it should be the reference point in crafting policies and laws that best protect women (Kelly, Lovett & Regan 34).
Biological Theory Model
Unlike other theories, this model bases its argument on natural selection. It argues that over time in history, natural selection favoured rape and as a consequence, led to an increase in reproductive success of the male species. The theory postulates that women have a wide choice when it comes to selecting mates. For the male species, rape is a creative way of circumventing the selectiveness of women when it comes to mates. Since men are perceived as being unable to control their biological tendencies as explained in this theory, the blame then shifts to women for dressing or acting in a provocative way (Kelly, Lovett & Regan 35).
Risk Factors that Lead to Sexual Assault
With regards to men, the factors that might predict their propensity to sexually assault include excessive use of alcohol and drugs and fantasies and attitudes that in one way, or another promotes sexual violence. In addition, hostility to women often plays a key role to sexual assault, the societal norms that have a created a perception that men are entitled to sex, the inability of the community to shun sexual violence, and laws which do not explicitly address the issues around gender equality and sexual assault (Acierno et al 543).
As regards women, the predisposing factors to sexual assault include youth, alcohol, alcohol or drug abuse, previous experience of sexual abuse, past experiences with many sexual partners, behaviours such as engaging in sex work. In addition, situations such as conflicts increase the possibility of sexual assault. It is also important to note that these factors only increase the chances of a woman being sexually assaulted as no woman can willingly accept to be sexually molested (Acierno et al 544).
Natural Science Aspects
Effects of Alcohol on Decision Making
Although the effects of alcohol occur in almost every part of the human body system, the central nervous system (CNS) bears the highest impact. The CNS is made up of the spinal cord and the brain. The system bears a huge significant in the body system as it functions in processing and responding to all changes within its environment. The brain is particularly responsible for initiating a flow of thoughts, perspective of an individual and reasoning. Depending on the duration of alcohol use, the individual may from experience short, temporary in perception to long term effects on his judgemental ability (Bedard, Gilligan, Kaysen, Desai & Lee 1078).
Even in small amounts, alcohol is capable of affecting the regular operative of the brain. An analysis of the youth involved in binge drinking shows that alcohol causes “blackouts.” While experiencing “blackouts,” the individuals often have difficulties in recalling their actions or giving a logical explanation about certain events. This form of drinking often results in poor decisions and is the common cause of sexual assault cases and domestic violence. The poor decision-making instances are often as a result of the effects of alcohol on the human memory, judgement and impulse control (George et al 1450).
Studies show that the continuous use of alcohol in excessive amounts affects the brain functioning ability. However, this also depends on the age of the person, gender of the individual, the person’s health condition, and genetics. The commonest problem that results from heavy alcohol use is tolerance and dependency. Usually, heavy drinking will lead to the development of changes in the brain’s biochemistry as a result of the reorganization of the activities of neurotransmitters in an attempt to ensure the brain functions optimally (Bedard-Gilligan, Kaysen, Desai & Lee 1079).
How Alcohol Affects the General Decision-Making of an Individual
In a study on the effects of alcohol on decision-making process, researchers provided different doses of alcohol to a group of 38 volunteers. Small concentration of about zero was tested for a control group and another concentration of a higher percent of about 0.1 percent was given to another group (Friston, Frith and Dolan). After the volunteers were asked to take part in a Go/No-reaction test, sufficient time was given for the alcohol to cause intoxication. The participants were then obligated to press a button when specific symbols were displayed on the screen (Friston, Frith and Dolan 570). The experiment showed quite interesting results between the control and the high-level intoxication. Therefore, people with the highest level of alcohol intoxication have been found to have an increased reaction time, more mistakes, and an overall reduction in successful trials (George et al 1452).
Effect of Alcohol on Sexual Decision Making
Heavy consumption of alcohol often results into intoxication which causes cognitive impairment. Alcohol myopia models contend that reduction in cognitive processing ability caused as a result of pharmacological effects of alcohol intoxication results in a narrowed attention focus. As such, a drunkard may attend to and process only the most salient situational cues (NIAAA www.niaaa.nih.gov). In sexual situations, impelling cues, for instance, sexual arousal often tend to occur almost instantaneously, whereas cues that would prevent sexual behaviour, such as STI/HIV risk are more remote and abstract. The net impact of this is a bigger possibility of sexual risk behaviour (George et al 1450).
Alcohol happens to be one the central nervous system’s depressant. As such, it is capable of offering a sedative and inhibitory effect on the brain. When alcohol acts on neurotransmitters such as serotonin among others, it induces an aggressive behaviour on the individual. It is such impulsive and uncontrolled behaviour that often causes a person engage in violence, sexually assault people and other deviant behaviours (George et al 1450).
Effects of Alcohol on Physiology
While a large number of the American youth in alcohol drinking activities, most of do not actually understand the effects alcohol has on their bodies. To begin with, the main ingredient present in alcohol is called ethyl or ethanol. Ethanol is, usually produced in a fermentation process and synthetically for commercial and industrial uses. It is this substance that is responsible for altering the physiology of the victim and this occurs as follows.
Acute Effects of Alcohol
Usually, the amount of alcohol one consumes determines, to a large extent, the effects on his physiology. As such, the brand of alcohol whether it is beer, wine or hard liquor has no bearing when it comes to effects on the physiological processes. In other words, it is the amount of alcohol that is build up in a person’s blood stream that determines the extent to which the individual’s physiological processes are affected (NIAAA).
The type of alcohol drink a person consumes has direct relationship to the rate of absorption of ethyl (Kansus State University). In mixed drinks, for instance, the “mixer” often causes dilution of the liquor and consequently lowers its concentration. The amount of dilution of a drink affects the rate of its absorption in the gastrointestinal tract i.e. the higher the dilution, the slower the rate of absorption into the blood and vice versa. In addition, the rate of absorption is determined by the speed with which alcohol reaches the intestines (NIAAA).
Since alcohol does not undergo digestion, it bypasses the stomach and continues being absorbed along the entire length of the gastrointestinal tract. However, the commencement of absorptions begins at the first sections of the small intestine: usually about 80 percent of the alcohol consumed is absorbed to the blood stream (NIAAA). It should be noted that anything delays alcohol in the stomach slows its absorption; consequently, both the amount of alcohol and type of mixer hugely affects the rate of absorption (NIAAA).
When the concentration of alcohol is high, it causes irritation on the digestive tract’s lining a factor that may cause paralysis on the musculature of the stomach wall. The effect of this will be that it will cause the valve that occurs between the stomach and the small intestines to spasm and hence lead to delays of alcohol absorption into the small intestine. Sugar added to a sweet mixer often slows absorption of alcohol into the small intestine. Conversely, a carbonated mixer facilitates the passage and consequent absorption of alcohol into the small intestine (Leonard /ria).
Eating food that is rich in oils or milk products just before drinking alcohol helps in slowing down the absorption of alcohol. A hefty meal, for example, influences the rate of alcohol absorption by slowing it (Kansus State University). When there is slow absorption, the topmost concentration is often low. Food also contributes to slowing down the rate of alcohol absorption by stimulating secretions such as gastric that dilute alcohol and hence slows absorption.
Effects of Alcohol on the Digestion Process
Much as the effects happens after alcohol’s enter into the blood, the gastrointestinal tract responds to alcohol (Kansus State University). Normally, low concentrations of alcohol induce the stomach walls to produce gastric secretions and are the reason why a glass of wine before a meal is often known to stimulate appetite: however, high concentrations of the same inhibit the digestive enzymes and cause irritation to the gastric lining (Leonard www.buffalo.edu/ria).
Effect of Alcohol on the Heart and Circulatory Systems
Alcohol has a profound effect on the body’s circulation system. Normally, low to moderate doses of alcohol causes the heart-beat and the blood pressure to increase. When highly concentrated, alcohol can reduce the heart’s pumping power significantly leading to the production on irregular electrocardiograms. In comparison, low to moderate alcohol concentrations allow the blood vessels to constrict inside the muscles while those on the surface of the skin dilate effectively, producing heat loss from the skin. It should be noted, however that high doses of alcohol leads to decrease in body temperature and interferes with the heat regulation ability (Leonard/ria).
Effect of Alcohol on The Endocrine System
The endocrine system refers to a series of body glands that are responsible for the regulation of the body’s physiology by producing and secreting hormones. Normally, most of the actions initiated by alcohol involve the endocrine system. The pancreas, for instance, performs a double role i.e. it takes part in digestion and also releases insulin, a hormone that is responsible for the regulation of blood sugar. Upon digestion, carbohydrates raise the blood sugar. The pancreas then releases insulin to control the levels of sugar. However, when alcohol is present, the pancreas overreacts by producing unusually high insulin levels; consequently, this leads a condition referred to as temporary hypoglycaemia (Leonard /ria).
Effect of Alcohol on The Nervous System
Alcohol is known to affect and influence the nervous system. In the event that the alcohol concentration in blood rises, the tranquilising act of alcohol increasingly implicates additional brain functions (Kansus State University). When the alcohol level in the blood reaches 0.08, the perception ability of the voluntary motor skills is impaired: consequently, the person often takes longer than usual to react to visual or auditory stimulus (Leonard /ria).
Interaction of Alcohol with other Drugs
Alcohol is known to produce a set of complex physiological changes that is classified into three categories i.e. antagonistic, addictive or supra-addictive. The interaction of alcohol varies depending on the category, for instance, in the antagonistic state, the effectiveness of either the drug or alcohol is diminished. In the addictive interaction of the drug with alcohol, the effects are build up beyond where drug and alcohol could yield alone (Kansus State University). The interactions of Supra-addiction, on the other hand, produce effects that are unusually higher than the combined effects of both drugs (George et al 1051).
Psychological Aspects Related to Sexual Assault Offenders
An understanding of why some people engage in sexually abusive behaviours is important in order to assist in designing interventions. For a long time now, researchers have tried to understand the psychology of the people who engage in sexual assaults. A comparison among the offenders shows that they have interests in or are usually aroused to things that are often regarded as being beyond the precincts of healthy sexual behaviour (Cowley, 1259).
Most of the offenders will often want to have sexual contacts with the minors; they are sadists; they have a tendency of exposing themselves in open places such a public setting; and they fancy watching others while they are undressing, or even engaging in sexual activities. While these behaviours deviate from the normal human behaviour, it is surprising that some of these offenders prefer these types of behaviours over mutually agreeable relationships. Since the attachment of the sex offenders to these behaviours is unusually strong, researchers believe that these behaviours set the stage for the sexually abusive offenders to conduct their acts (Cowley, 1260).
Cognitive Distortions or Pro-Offending Attitudes
Researchers in this area say that the sex offenders usually know that behaviours such as child molestation and rape are not acceptable in the society and to others; however, despite this knowledge, the offenders still go on and carry out the sinful acts. Their actions are in many cases associated with a psychological condition called cognitive distortions or pro-offending attitudes. Psychologically, the offenders have a mentality telling them that their behaviour is not harmful or in some instances that they claim the victim was happy with the behaviour. It is such beliefs by the offenders that largely contribute to them engaging in wrong behaviour and, as such, they do not feel guilty for their actions (Fossos et al 1003).
Social, Interpersonal, and Intimacy Deficits
It has been shown that part of the psychological reason that pushes the sex offenders to carry out their acts stems from the problems these people experience in their social lives. Most of these offenders often have issues with regards to their communication; they often feel isolated and have issues with intimate relationships. Researchers believe these characteristics among offenders are the ones that lead to committing sex offences. In addition, they lead to vulnerability to sexual recidivism (Fossos et al 1005).
Victim Empathy Deficits
This interpersonal delinquent is quite prevalent among many delinquents. It involves putting oneself in a situation of the other individual or the distinctive ability to feel the problems the other individual is going through. For quite some time, it was always thought that sex offenders lacked empathy but research has shown their deficits are quite specific to their victims. The specific factor responsible for the prediction of recidivism, however, is still unknown (Fossos et al 1005).
Poor Coping or Self-Management Skills
It has been established that most of the offenders are not quite able to manage their emotions effectively. Others remain highly impulsive and do not real care about the results of their actions. In most cases, these people are unable to control the urge to engage in risk behaviour from time to time. While these kinds of issues are a common feature among sex offenders, they are not very specific to them alone. However, there is a high degree that emotional and behavioural self-regulation challenges experienced among the offenders contribute to them being involved in sex offending and sometimes reoffending (Fossos et al 1006).
Psychological Aspects Related To the Victims
The psychological consequences related to sexual assault among the victims is a widely studied topic, largely because the rates of violence against young girls and women are at all times high. Statistics on sexual assault indicates that about 18 percent of all women experienced or reported a rape case during their lifetime. The report also shows that over 54 percent of rape victims are young girls below the age of 18 years. Following rape, most of the survivors often report severe symptoms or long-term distress while others do not (Feldhaus, Houry & Kaminsky 24).
A survey of the colleges in the United States reveals damning statistics regarding the prevalence of sexual assault cases. For instance, the report shows that 18 percent of college going students have experienced an attempted sexual assault whereas 13 percent have had a complete sexual assault. Even more worrying is the fact that 79 percent of the offenders were known by the victim (Feldhaus, Houry & Kaminsky 24).
Psychological Consequences of Sexual Assault Victims
Sexual assault often brings so much psychological effects on the part of the victims. The effects are, however, depending on the age of the victim i.e. younger people tend to have different psychological consequences from that of adults. This part focuses on the consequences on both the underage and adults.
Psychological Effects of Sexual Assault on Young People
Young people especially children are likely to experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In this condition, a child has a sense of great fear, helplessness and other symptoms such as reoccurring recollections of the preceding sexual assault event. The affected children often suffer from depression with thoughts of suicide. In addition, the children may develop mental health problems, problems of alcohol use and even eating disorders (Acierno et al 550).
Sexual assault on children is also likely to interfere with certain developmental processes, for instance, a child may have issues developing and maintaining relationships. Some children survivors may grow and go on to display high-risk sexual behaviours, for example, promiscuity. It has also been observed that the survivors of rape tend to have problems socializing, and sometimes engaging in other activities could be impaired. Childhood sexual assault may also result in other personality disorders especially those are differentiated by patterns of trust and suspiciousness, grandiosity and need for admiration, for example, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) (Acierno et al 553).
Psychological Effects of Sexual Assault on Adult People
Adult people are the women victims of rape and who happen to experience both short term and long term psychological effects. Short term psychological consequences include shock, fear, anxiety and socially feeling withdrawn. The adult victims of sexual assault often experience symptoms of PTSD including emotional detachment, insomnia and flashbacks. The most reported psychological consequences in this clique of people revolve around PTSD. The most prevalent issues these people develop include parasuicidal behaviours, use of illegal drugs and alcohol. The psychological consequences of sexual assault, however, vary according to the type of sexual assault (Acierno et al 560).
In conclusion, it is true that alcohol and ‘hook up’ culture contribute towards sexual assault. There is a strong connection between alcohol and the “Hook Up” culture in that the latter is largely influenced by alcohol consumption. The high rate of alcohol consumption by the American youth is worrying and requires immediate interventions.
Following the “Hook Up” culture in university colleges, rates of uncommitted sex have gone up in the recent years despite the apparent risks the culture poses to those involved. The cases of sexual assault in American universities have also gone up and this can be attributed to heavy drinking by students and engagement in Hook Up culture. Also the various cultural factors have played a major role towards increasing the assault cases.
Sexual assault is an act whose occurrence is not spontaneous but rather systematic. In committing the crime, the offenders apply different styles on their victims and these include dominant style, co-operative style, hostility and submissive behaviour. The various theories advanced to explain the causes of sexual assault include psychopathology model, learned behaviour model, psychological development model and male dominance model just to mention a few.
Studies on alcohol show that it can affect decision on the part of the user. In addition, alcohol also affects various physiological processes of the human body. In precise, alcohol distresses the heart and circulatory systems. Moreover it has effect on the endocrine system and distort the nervous system. Sexual battering causes different mental effects on both the offender and the victim. With regards to the victim, sexual assault cases posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), fear, and a sense of hopelessness among others.
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