Numerous studies have identified alcohol-related sexual assault (ARSA) as a nation-wide problem, especially among college women who experience sexual assault at nearly four times the national rate.1 For many young women entering college, increased drinking, new interpersonal situations, and lack of sexual experiences, contribute to a higher risk of experiencing ARSA.2-5 Though alcohol is a necessary predictor worthy of attention in interventions6-7, it is not sufficient in explaining the whole of ARSA. Evidence suggests ARSA is multi-determined and may occur more or less frequently in the presence of certain intrapersonal, interpersonal, or environmental conditions.8-10 The proposed research is unique in that it will examine four distinct predictive pathways of ARSA: alcohol use, alcohol protective behaviors (APB), interpersonal protective behaviors (IPB), and contextual risk factors (CRF). This work will use novel theoretical and methodological approaches to examine these pathways to gain a greater understanding of the factors influencing the occurrence of ARSA among first-year college women. More specifically, the research agenda includes two studies that will: 1) prospectively examine a comprehensive, theory-based model of predictive pathways between alcohol-, APB-, IPB-, and CRF-specific constructs (proximal mediators and distal predictors) and ARSA in first-year college women, and 2) use Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) to predict ARSA risk across the first semester (assessed 3-months post-baseline) and to examine momentary and daily fluctuations in the predictors associated with ARSA (alcohol, APB, IPB, CRF). Findings from these studies have the potential to provide the information needed to significantly improve ARSA-specific intervention efforts.
The proposed research aims to apply novel theoretical and methodological approaches to examine alcohol use, alcohol protective behaviors, interpersonal protective behaviors, and contextual risk factors, as distinct predictive pathways of alcohol-related sexual assault (ARSA) among first-year college women. Findings have the potential to provide the information necessary to significantly enhance ARSA-specific intervention efforts.