Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Clinical Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Christine Fiore

Commitee Members

Bryan Cochran, Elizabeth Hubble


Alcohol, College Students, Sexual Assault, Social Support, Responsibility, Crime


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Counseling | Counselor Education | Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence | Psychology | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social Policy | Social Welfare | Social Work


Sexual violence among college students is recognized as a serious public health concern in the United States. Among college students, sexual violence is associated with high levels of PTSD symptoms and psychological consequences (Frazier et al., 2009). For ages 18 to 25 sexual violence is the only crime that is found to occur more frequently among college students than the same age group not attending college and is at its highest rate during the first year of attendance(Baum & Klaus, 2005) Research has already uncovered increased risk of victimization for young college students including heavy alcohol consumption (Messman-Moore, Coates, Gaffey, & Johnson, 2008), acquaintance with the perpetrator (B. Mason & Smithey, 2012), and previous victimization (Classen, Palesh, & Aggarwal, 2005; Messman-Moore & Brown, 2006). Although these risk factors are already recognized, it is still unknown how alcohol specifically affects the victim’s perception of the experience. What the victim attributes to the circumstance involving alcohol may be important for greater understanding. With low report rates (40%, Truman & Planty, 2012), and an even lower acknowledgment of crime rate (25%, Cleere & Lynn, 2013) and high rates of alcohol consumption of either the perpetrator or victim prior to sexual violence (50%, Abbey, Ross, McDuffie, & McAuslan, 1996), it is important to understand how influential the voluntary consumption of alcohol is on a female’s perception of her role in the unwanted sexual experience. Bystanders perceive that the victim has more responsibility when alcohol is involved (Girard & Senn, 2008). Therefore, if victims have similar perceptions they may fail to recognize a crime occurred, be less likely to seek social support, and feel responsibility, shame/embarrassment, or guilt for the sexual violence. A campus wide Safe Campus Survey was disseminated in the fall of 2014. Thirty-six students reported experiencing a sexual assault in the past year or since attending the university and completed the specific unwanted sexual experiences survey. Logistic regression and Chi-Square Test for Association were utilized to test the relationships between the victim’s perception of intoxication on their likelihood to tell someone about the assault, feelings of responsibility, perception of a crime occurring, and shame/embarrassment or guilt. Significant associations were found with feelings of responsibility and perception of a crime, with and without the control for physical force. Future directions and limitations are discussed.



© Copyright 2015 Lindsey C. Grove