Professor Hallie Liberto (University of Connecticut) has kindly given What’s Wrong? permission to reprint the following letter, which she sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday. The letter is in response to the CDC fact sheet on “Excessive Alcohol Use and Risks to Women’s Health” that can be found here.
December 6, 2016
To Whom it May Concern,
I notice that the CDC reports that risks of rape and sexual assault are heightened by the use of alcohol. The direct quote is this,
“Sexual Assault: Binge drinking is a risk factor for sexual assault, especially among young women in college settings. Each year, about 1 in 20 college women are sexually assaulted. Research suggests that there is an increase in the risk of rape or sexual assault when both the attacker and victim have used alcohol prior to the attack.”
This may be so. However, why not report that the risks of domestic abuse, murder, violent non-sexual assault are also heightened by alcohol consumption (both by the victim and the perpetrator)? These things are also true.
By singling out rape/sexual assault on your website, and failing to mention other crimes more common among intoxicated persons, the CDC does the following:
1. It suggests that sexual assault is an alcohol-induced misfortune, rather than a crime. Note that everything else under “Other Health Risks” is a misfortune but not a crime (e.g. cancer, risks to the heart and liver).
2. It suggests that victims of rape, but not victims of other crimes, bear responsibility for what happened to them. After all, they are not being warned against alcohol because of the heightened risk of domestic abuse.
Please take this passage (the one I quoted above) down from your fact sheet on Excessive Alcohol Use and Risks to Women’s Health, listed under “Other Health Concerns.”
Assistant Professor Hallie Liberto
University of Connecticut