Sexual assault, drinking norms, and drinking behavior among a national sample of lesbian and bisexual women

Addict Behav. 2014 Mar;39(3):630-6. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2013.11.015. Epub 2013 Nov 26.


Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and adolescent/adult sexual assault (ASA) are strongly associated with women's alcohol use and the rates of both alcohol use and sexual assault history are higher among lesbian and bisexual women than heterosexual women. Although descriptive drinking norms are one of the highest predictors of alcohol use in emerging adults, this is the first study to examine the relationship between sexual assault history, drinking norms, and alcohol use in lesbian and bisexual women. We found that CSA severity was associated with a higher likelihood of experiencing more severe alcohol-involved ASA, more severe physically forced ASA, and was indirectly associated with more drinking behavior and higher drinking norms. Additionally, more severe alcohol-involved ASA was associated with higher drinking norms and more drinking behavior, but physically forced ASA was not. These findings help explain previous contradictory findings and provide information for interventions.

Keywords: Alcohol use; Drinking norms; Lesbian and bisexual women; Sexual assault.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / psychology
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Bisexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data*
  • Crime Victims / psychology
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Homosexuality, Female / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Sex Offenses / psychology
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult