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Read our latest newsletter: February 2017.

While sexual violence and alcohol overlap, they’re separate issues

The Aug. 6 editorial “More security, please” and Beverly Beckham’s Aug. 3 column “Society’s drinking problem goes unchecked,” which cited the alleged rape at the recent Keith Urban concert at the Xfinity Center, address only half the problem.

We appreciate the call from both pieces and the commitment of Live Nation and Xfinity Center to review the protocols and training needs to address alcohol-related problems at these events. Underage and high-risk drinking can lead to a range of public health and public safety issues: burns, suicide, drowning, addiction, vandalism, traffic crashes, violent crime, unplanned pregnancy, alcohol poisoning, noise complaints, sexually transmitted diseases, poor performance in school, and, yes, rape and sexual assault.

However, while there is overlap between sexual violence and alcohol, it’s critical not to conflate the two issues. Plain and simple: Alcohol use does not cause rape or sexual assault.

While victims are never to blame for the assault, alcohol may hinder their ability to reduce their risk of a potentially sexually violent incident. Similarly, if bystanders are intoxicated, their response may be compromised. The message that we hope everyone will take away is that we must address both these issues separately and as they connect.

We urge event venues, other businesses, and schools to work with experts from the sexual violence field to consider which changes are necessary to help prevent sexual assault and rape at future events.

Toni K. Troop

Director of communications

Jane Doe Inc.

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