Childhood Sexual Abuse, Perpetration and College Binge Drinking


Substance abuse is a prevalent problem on college campuses because of its association with academic and social impairment (e.g., McChargue et al., 2012; Shillington & Clapp, 2002; 2006). There are also gender specific consequences associated with college substance use behavior. For example, female college students are at a greater probability of being raped while binge drinking (Marx et al., 2000). Within Dr. McChargue's laboratory, he is interested in identifying individual difference factors that increase the probability of rape while improving prevention efforts to lower such risk. Specific interests are related to females who have experienced childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and developing interventions that target male perpetrators. For example, a protective factor associated with buffering those with CSA histories from developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the inability to dissociate (escape reality) at the time of the abuse (Warshaw et al., 1993). College females with CSA histories may have this protective factor because PTSD rates are low on college campuses and these college females tend to function at higher levels than what would be expected of someone with PTSD (Wellman, 1993). Assuming that college females with CSA histories do not have dissociative experiences similar to PTSD, our lab questioned whether they still desired to dissociate from daily stress and whether this desire translated to chemical-dissociative behavior, such as drinking until you blackout. To the lab's knowledge, we were the first to show supportive evidence that college females with CSA histories a) have similar dissociative experiences to other college students and b) despite the low dissociative rates, may use alcohol to chemically dissociate (blackout) from daily stressors (Klanecky, Harrington & McChargue, 2008). Dr. McChargue's lab also showed that CSA may act to catalyze earlier adolescent nicotine exposure's associated with illicit drug use in college (Klanecky, Salvi & McChargue, 2009). Seed grant pilot work also shows that D2 dopamine receptor genes significantly enhance the likelihood that those exposed to early life trauma will significantly shorten the latency to alcohol use onset (Klinkebiel, Klanecky & McChargue, November 2008). We have also developed a measure to tap into the construct of desiring to dissociate versus actual dissociative tendencies.  Initial estimates show that desire to dissociate mediated the relatoinship between CSA and problematic alcohol use (Klanecky, McChargue & Bruggeman, 2012).  

From this line of research, we have pivoted the focus on identifying factors that influence the perpetration of sexual aggressive behavior among male binge drinkers. Our research shows that alcohol expectancies play a significant role in such aggression (Tuliao & McChargue, in press). Our primary data collection, to date, is now focused within the I3 theory that suggests that an instigating trigger, such as sexual rejection, activates impelling forces (e.g., misogynistic attitudes, social norms) and dis/Inhibiting forces (e.g., alcohol) to increase the likelihood of sexual aggression.  We are currently testing the hypothesis that cognitive decision-making processes may act as unique impelling forces that help explain sexual aggression during a binge drinking situation.  This line of research also crosses our cultural evaluation comparing Filipino and US samples.