Sexual Abuse and Substance Abuse
Sexual abuse and drugs and alcohol have a very complicated, intertwined relationship. They have much in common in the sense that sexual violence and addiction can happen to anybody and cross all racial, socioeconomic and cultural boundaries. Substance abuse and sexual assault also carry what most would agree is an unjust social stigma placed on those who experience either. In many instances, being a victim of a sexual assault can be a causal effect of an individual’s downward spiral into drug addiction and alcoholism. At the same time, substance abuse can be part of a group of behaviors that makes an individual more likely to be a victim of sexual abuse. Below we will explore the various cause and effect relationship possibilities between sexual abuse and substance abuse.
When the Sexual Abuse Comes First
Sexual abuse is defined by the American Psychological Association as unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent. Sexual abuse falls under the category of trauma, and people who have undergone a serious trauma such as sexual assault often experience high levels of stress as well as other severe psychological implications as a result of the abuse. It is unfortunately common that drugs and alcohol be utilized by these individuals in an attempt to cope with the pain and stress of what happened to them. When someone is abusing drugs or alcohol in an attempt to block out a painful part of their past, it’s plain to see how easily an addiction can develop as a result.
When the Substance Abuse Comes First
According to the Center for Disease Control, there is a group of behaviors that increase an individual’s risk in becoming a victim of sexual abuse. Substance abuse is very high on that list. For example, when a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, immediately their ability to make decisions is impaired and they can be unable to give their consent. Estimates of sexual assault victims being under the influence of alcohol at the time of their attack ranges from 30 percent all the way up to 79 percent. Women who drink are considerably more likely to be victims of sexual abuse than women who do not. This is thought to be due to the perpetrator’s perception of women who drink as being more vulnerable to their attacks than women who do not.
Destination Hope: The Women’s Program is a Joint Commission accredited drug, alcohol and dual diagnosis facility in Florida for women with substance abuse issues. Being that sexual assault largely targets women who abuse drugs and alcohol, if you have a substance abuse problem, you are unwittingly putting yourself at a much greater risk for becoming a victim of such an assault. Do yourself a favor and get clean. Destination Hope can help. If you are woman who started abusing drugs or alcohol in an ill-fated attempt to escape the mental anguish and horrors from experiencing such an attack, Destination Hope can help you too. Their recovery experts specialize in teaching women how to take back control of their lives from addiction as well as all any trauma or other co-occurring illnesses that come along with it. If there is a woman in your life who could benefit from the concentrated care of Destination Hope, please put her in contact with us today. You may just be saving her life.