Alcohol link to most assaults

BY REBECCA TODD
Last updated 05:00 29/09/2009

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More than half the assaults in New Zealand involve alcohol, a new study shows.

A Massey University study of 16,500 people published in the New Zealand Medical Journal found that nearly 7 per cent of men and 3 per cent of women had been physically assaulted in the previous year.

One in 100 women had been sexually assaulted, and one in 200 men.

More than half the physical and sexual assaults were by people who had been drinking.

Alcohol consumption also increased people's chances of being a victim.

The research suggested there were more than 62,000 assaults every year by people who had been drinking alcohol.

Christchurch Sexual Abuse Survivors Trust clinical practice manager Annie Robertson said the number of young people sexually assaulted after drinking was a "huge concern".

Up to half of the women attending the clinic believed a date-rape drug, such as fantasy, had been slipped into their drink. Robertson said she did not know what percentage of tests came back positive for the drugs, but many women displayed symptoms such as memory loss.

An Otago University study published in the same journal found 17 per cent of people visiting three medical centres in Dunedin over a two-month period had been drinking within six hours of their injury.

Nearly two-thirds of these people reported a "hazardous" intake of alcohol.

About a quarter of women had been drinking before injuring themselves and 11 per cent of men.

Christchurch emergency department specialist Scott Pearson said the results were in line with his own experience of dealing with alcohol-related injuries.

At least one-third of people arriving at the hospital between 10pm and 3am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights had been drinking.

Facial fractures and other injuries from fights had a particularly "high association" with alcohol consumption, he said.

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