Women Recall Rapes Accurately Even While Intoxicated
They may not remember as much, but what they do is trustworthy
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2015 11:42 AM CDT
Stock photo   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Undergoing questioning as a rape victim is difficult, but even more so if the victim is made to feel her recollections are untrustworthy—a reaction that's more probable if she was intoxicated during the assault. "Out of these concerns, the police might forgo interviewing victims," University of Leicester researcher Heather Flowe says, per a press release from the university. "On the other hand, almost always in sexual offenses, the victim is the only one who can provide information about the crime to investigators." But Flowe and her team have study results that could help put those concerns to rest, finding that women who had a BAC at the legal driving limit of 0.08 may not have been able to recollect as much information as their sober counterparts about a hypothetical rape, but they were able to remember it just as accurately.

For a study published in the journal Memory, researchers divided 88 female college students ages 18 to 31 into two groups: One group drank plain tonic water, the other group tonic and vodka—enough to get, as Vocativ puts it, "either a medium or high buzz." They then had to go through what Vocativ describes as a hypothetical "choose your own adventure" scenario with an attractive man, where they could opt out of the situation at any time as the sexual activity escalated; if they opted out, they'd be presented with a hypothetical sexual assault scenario based on real rape cases. When all participants were quizzed about the scenario 24 hours later, then again four months later, those who had been drinking said "I don't know" more often—but when they did answer, their descriptions were just as accurate as those of the tonic-tippling group. One limitation of the study, researchers acknowledge: Reaction to hypotheticals in a lab may obviously not match that of those going through a real assault. (One group of sex-crime survivors have their own village.)