Issues Raised by TWO LAKES, TWO RIVERS

Two Lakes, Two Rivers contains
many important themes.

This page contains the research that helped to inform the realities that the play’s characters live.

Sources are also provided for audience’s perusal.

Sexual Assault While Under the Influence

  • Sexual assault is underreported, and substance use during sexual assault is further underreported. 
  • Marijuana is the most common drug reported (other than alcohol) when drugs are present in sexual assault. 
  • Marijuana is often used together with alcohol in sexual assault.
  • Marijuana and alcohol combined may have a greater effect on cognitive functioning than either substance alone. Cognitive functioning includes a person’s ability to recognize and react to risky situations.
  • At least 50% of student sexual assaults involve alcohol.
  • Approximately 90% of rapes perpetrated by an acquaintance of the victim involve alcohol.
  • About 43% of sexual assault events involve alcohol use by the victim; 69% involve alcohol use by the perpetrator.
  • In one-third of sexual assaults, the aggressor is intoxicated.

Sexual Assault on College Campuses

  • More than half of women who experience sexual assault of any kind on campus never tell anyone. In many cases, this is because women feel they may be belittled, disbelieved, or denied support. Often, the perpetrators of sexual assault are defended over the victim, who is shamed or even blamed for behavior seen to be contributing to the assault, including if the individual is drunk.

  • According to the National Institute of Justice, sorority membership is a “risk factor” for sexual assault — 25% of sexual assault victims surveyed were sorority members but only 14% of non-victims surveyed belonged to a sorority.
  • Fraternity houses have been described by academic journals as “dangerous places for women”
  • Fraternity men are three times more likely to commit rape than their non-greek peers.

Sexual Assault and College-Aged Women

-11.2% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation (among all graduate and undergraduate students).

-Among undergraduate students, 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.

Only 20% of female student victims, age 18-24, report to law enforcement.

Only 32% of nonstudent females the same age do make a report.

More than 50% of college sexual assaults occur in either August, September, October, or November.

-Students are at an increased risk during the first few months of their first and second semesters in college.

Perpetrator, Victim/Survivor, Bystander, and Community Members


  • A victim/survivor is a person harmed or injured as a result of a crime (e.g., sexual assault). 


  • A perpetrator is a person who carries out the sexual assault or crime.


  • A bystander is a person who is present when the sexual assault takes place but isn’t directly involved. Bystanders might be present when sexual assault or abuse occurs—or they could witness the circumstances that lead up to these crimes.  Can include passive bystanders, upstanders or allies.


  • The community members are those who are family, friends, neighbors, classmates, and/or co-workers who live in proximity to where the assault takes place. Community members have a hand in ostracizing, embracing, or accusing the victim/survivor.

Cold, Long Winters in the Midwest

  • Average snowfall in La Crosse, Wisconsin in January: 13 inches
  • Average temperatures in La Crosse, Wisconsin in January:

High: 25.5 degrees

Low: 6.3 degrees

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or the “winter blues:”

  • Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that affects some people at about the same time each year, usually beginning in the late fall or early winter and dissipating in the spring or summer. SAD is associated with biochemical brain changes that occur with decreased sunlight and changes to a person’s internal clock (also known as their circadian rhythm). 
  • Women are 4x more likely to suffer from SAD.

Per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 20% of Americans with an anxiety or mood disorder, such as SAD, also struggle with a substance use disorder, and vice versa.9 According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 50% of all people who struggle with a mental health disorder will also experience a substance use disorder at some point.

Grief and the Glorification of the Dead

“Death of an Unloved One” by Sarah LeTrent, CNN

  • “The cemetery isn’t always an easy place to bury the hatchet, especially when survivors remember the deceased in an adversarial light. What do “My condolences” or “I’m sorry for your loss” mean to a person who is thinking “Good riddance”? And how do resentful survivors avoid speaking ill of the dead?”
  • “Grief experts say people affected by the death of a less-than-loved one often have much more unfinished emotional business, and that business starts with forgiveness of a sort.”
  • “Grieving people tend to create larger-than-life pictures in which they enshrine or bedevil the person who died,” Russell Friedman, executive director of the Grief Recovery Institute, said.
  • “When they’re telling the story of their pain, there’s no recovery. Where is the completion,” he asked. “They’re just confirming the pain that’s built in; the pain becomes their identity. The pain is not freedom; it’s jail.”
  • “‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ doesn’t cut it when a person is a monster,” Blanton said. “Having someone say, ‘I’m so sorry for what he did to you. I wish someone had been there for you’ does wonders.”

Grief and Difficult Relationships

  • Difficult relationships bring up complicated emotions
  • Some of these examples may resonate with you:
  • Numbness; not knowing if what you’re feeling is actually grief
  • Feelings of relief, which may seem inappropriate and abnormal (though they aren’t)
  • An absence of sadness, though you can see that others are sad
  • Finding it difficult to accept that the person is gone and any hope for reconciliation is gone, too
  • Feelings of grief even though others may think you shouldn’t grieve the loss
  • A lack of closure even though you thought the person’s death would not affect you
  • Feeling guilty that you didn’t try harder to have a better relationship while the person was alive
  • Anger that the person took something precious from you (i.e. a happy childhood, good self-esteem, a healthy, loving relationship)
  • Feeling justified in your anger against the person who has died

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