According to experts at the University of Birmingham, women are capable of recalling details of sexual victimization such as rape with precision even if moderate amounts of alcohol were consumed.
As explained in the journal Frontiers in Psychology—Forensic and Legal Psychology, 90 women were recruited as participants, in which they were assigned to a hypothetical rape scenario. Half of the participants received an alcoholic beverage, while the rest received tonic water.
“The women then worked through a written (on screen) and audio presented account of an encounter between themselves and a man and asked to imagine how they would actually think and feel if the incident happened to them,” the authors explained in a news release.
“As the scenario unfolded, the women were asked to make decisions about whether or not to continue with the encounter. If they made a decision to end the encounter, they were presented with a screen detailing a hypothetical rape taking place at the end of the evening.”
A questionnaire was completed within seven days of the experiment concluding. The participants recalled consensual sexual activity with firm accuracy regardless of intoxication level or alcohol expectancy condition, but women often were overconfident.
“This research challenges a key myth about victim’s memories regarding rape and sexual assault, which is often used to dismiss the victim’s account. We hope this work will lead to changes in the way courts and expert witnesses manage testimony from alleged victims of rape and sexual assault,” the authors of the study concluded.