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Facts & Figures

Norway: Sexual assault while too intoxicated to resist

A new study published in Health behavior, health promotion and society journal shows that sexual assault against teenage girls who are too drunk to resist seems to be prevalent in Norway – notably among the youngest girls who engage in heavy episodic drinking.

Underage drinking is widespread, but studies on alcohol-related sexual victimization among teenage girls are almost non-existent. Research on individual correlates and risk factors of sexual victimization more generally is also meager. This study focuses on sexual assault while incapacitated due to drunkenness among 15–18 year-old girls and examines how age, drinking behavior, impulsivity and involvement in norm-violating activities are associated with such victimization experiences.

The majority of the girls (71%) had been intoxicated in the past year, of which 7% had experienced ISA victimization in the same period. The proportion of victims decreased by age within the group that had been intoxicated, reflecting that the youngest girls were more likely to get severely drunk. Impulsivity and involvement in norm-violating behaviors were identified as potential risk factors, but the population-attributable fractions indicated that the groups with the highest risk of ISA victimization accounted for only a minority of all the cases of such victimization.

Sexual assault against teenage girls who are too drunk to resist seems to be prevalent in Norway – notably among the youngest girls who engage in heavy episodic drinking. This study also suggests that one should reconsider the notion that no individual attributes are related to females’ sexual assault victimization. It also indicates that a high risk approach to prevention, targeting groups with a high level of impulsivity or behavioral problems, may have limited effect on the prevalence of ISA victimization. Thus, from a public health perspective, it may be advisable to give priority to universal preventive measures to curb young girls’ risk of being sexually assaulted in a state of alcohol-induced incapacitation.

Source: BMC Public Health