Childhood sexual abuse and acute alcohol effects on men's sexual aggression intentions

Kelly Cue Davis, Trevor J. Schraufnagel, Angela J. Jacques-Tiura, Jeanette Norris, William H. George, Preston A. Kiekel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Objective: Although research has established childhood sexual abuse (CSA) as a risk factor for men's perpetration of sexual aggression, there has been little investigation of the factors undergirding this association. This study represents one of the first to use a laboratory-based sexual aggression analogue coupled with an alcohol administration protocol to investigate the pathways through which CSA and alcohol influence men's self-reported sexual aggression intentions. Method: After completing background questionnaires, male social drinkers (N = 220) were randomly assigned to a control, placebo, low alcohol dose or high alcohol dose condition. Following beverage consumption, participants read a sexual scenario in which the female partner refused to have unprotected sexual intercourse, after which they completed dependent measures. Results: Path analysis indicated that men with a CSA history and intoxicated men perceived the female character as more sexually aroused and reported stronger sexual entitlement cognitions, both of which were in turn associated with greater condom use resistance and higher sexual aggression intentions. Exploratory analyses revealed that intoxication moderated the effects of CSA history on sexual entitlement cognitions, such that sexual entitlement cognitions were highest for men who had a CSA history and consumed alcohol. Conclusions: Findings suggest that CSA history may facilitate sexual assault perpetration through its effects on in-the-moment cognitions and that these effects may be exacerbated by alcohol intoxication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-193
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology of Violence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • alcohol
  • cognitive distortions
  • condom use resistance
  • sexual aggression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology


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