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Study to consider alcohols role in date rape

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Drinking and dating may be a dangerous mix. When women are drinking they may be less likely to pick up on subtle cues and sexual pressures that normally would raise a red flag. And when alcohol intake is high enough, it can impair a woman's ability to recognize cues of sexual aggression and a date may lead to a physically threatening situation that ends in rape.

How alcohol intake affects women's responses to sexual aggression is the focus of a new study funded by a $350,000 grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism being conducted at the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Additions (RIA).

"Women don't always realize how alcohol can alter their perceptions," noted Maria Testa, Ph.D., senior research scientist at RIA and adjunct associate professor in the UB School of Social Work who is principal investigator on the study. "If you're in a dating situation where you're being subtly pressured to have sex and you can't recognize the subtle cues," she said, "the situation may end up seriously threatening your safety.

"We will be examining how alcohol impairs the ability to recognize and respond to risk of sexual aggression with the goal of providing the kind of information that will help women to engage in resistance strategies."

Testa's co-investigator on the RIA study is Jennifer Livingston, Ph.D. The two colleagues have been studying women and the role of alcohol, risky behaviors, and victimization for the past eight years.

Participants for the study will be drawn from Testa's previous Women 2000 Study, which included 1,015 women, ages 18-30, randomly selected from households in the metropolitan Buffalo area. Computer-assisted interviews with these women revealed that one in four women had experienced rape or attempted rape at some time since the age of 14. Women who were heavier drinkers -- who drank more than four drinks per occasion at least once a week -- were twice
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Contact: Kathleen Weaver
weaver@ria.buffalo.edu
716-887-2585
University at Buffalo
17-May-2002


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