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CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

NPR: If He's Sexually Aggressive In Bars, It's Not Because He's Drunk

Young women are often the targets of aggression when they're out in bars, but the problem isn't that guys are too drunk to know better.

Instead, men are preying on women who have had too much to drink.

When researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of Washington observed young people's behavior in bars, they found that the man's aggressiveness didn't match his level of intoxication. There was no relationship.

 
Man in bar 
 
Instead, men targeted women who were intoxicated.
 

The researchers hired and trained 140 young adults to go into bars in the Toronto area and note every incident of aggression they saw. They found that 25 percent of all incidents involved sexual aggression. And 90 percent of the victims of sexual aggression were women being harassed by men.

Almost all of the aggression was physical, with about two-thirds of the aggressors physically touching women without consent. About 17 percent threatened contact. And 9 percent verbally harassed their targets.

Men may perceive intoxicated women either as more amenable to advances or as easier targets who are less able to rebuff them because they don't have their wits about them, the researchers say.

"There's no reason that women should be touched against their will," says Dr. Kathryn Graham, the study's lead researcher and a senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health at the University of Toronto. Women wouldn't accept that kind of behavior at school or on the street, she notes, but it seems to get a pass in bars, she tells Shots.

Visit NPR's website to read the rest of this article. ​​​​​​​​​​
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