Unwanted Sex Due to Intoxication among Australians Aged 16–69 Years

Allison Carter*, Christy Newman, Richard de Visser, Anna Yeung, Chris Rissel, Andrew Grulich, Bridget Haire, Deborah Bateson, Cathy Vaughn, Kevin McGeechan, Basil Donovan, Juliet Richters, Rebecca Guy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Intoxication can be a factor in unwanted sex, but research on the extent of the issue in both women and men is limited. We assessed the prevalence, correlates, and 10-year time-trends of unwanted sex due to intoxication among a representative sample of 4,279 women and 3,875 men aged 16–69 years in Australia and considered how these vary by gender. In 2012–13, 16% of women and 10% of men reported ever having had a sexual experience when they “did not want to because they were too drunk or high at the time.” For both women and men, this was associated with younger age, bisexual activity, and reports of lifetime injection drug use, sexually transmitted infections, and forced sex. Among women only, it was associated with drinking above guideline levels and ever having terminated a pregnancy. Among men only, it was associated with current tobacco smoking, elevated psychosocial distress, and poor general health. Compared with 2001–02 data, fewer men reported unwanted intoxicated sex, while there were no changes for women as a whole. Interpreting these findings through an intersectional assemblage framework supports stronger understanding of the multiple factors influencing sexuality and substance use with implications for promoting equity, safety, and sexual health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-85
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Sex Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council [grant no. 1002174]. The authors thank the staff of the Hunter Valley Research Foundation for managing data collection and undertaking the interviews for this study, and the Social Research Centre for producing weights for the data. The authors also thank the 21,139 Australians who took part in the project and so freely shared the sometimes intimate aspects of their lives.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.


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