Alcohol and Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault

Substance Facilitated Sexual Assault is a harsh reality and it happens far too frequently.The most common substance used to facilitate sexual violence is alcohol. Alcohol can change your perception, coordination, decrease attention and memory, or cause memory loss.

Top Ten Facts about Sexual Assault and Alcohol

  1. An incapacitated person does not forfeit his/her rights. Many state laws recognize that when someone is drunk, she or he is unable to give consent. If you have sex with someone who is passed out or incapable of giving consent, it will be considered SEXUAL ASSAULT.
  2. Sexual assault is a crime of violence: Alcohol never justifies violent, criminal behavior. Intoxication can never be used as a defense for someone who commits a sexual assault.
  3. Alcohol use at the time of the attack was found to be one of the four strongest predictors of a college woman being raped. (Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology)
  4. Under the influence of alcohol, men are more likely to interpret a woman's smile, laughter, clothes, or body language as evidence that she wants to have sex.
  5. Alcohol slows reflexes and can impair the victim's ability to recognize a potentially dangerous situation.
  6. Alcohol impairs judgment and lowers inhibitions, making some people more likely to force sex on an unwilling partner.
  7. Alcohol use can contribute to an atmosphere where anything goes, including rape by individuals or groups of men.
  8. 47% of college women in Virginia who were raped believe they were unable to effectively resist as a result of their own alcohol use. (State Council of Higher Education for Virginia)
  9. Men are more likely than women to assume that a woman who drinks alcohol on a date is a willing sex partner. 40% of men who think this way also believe it is acceptable to force sex on an intoxicated woman. (Journal of American College Health)
  10. At least 80% of college students who had unwanted sex were under the influence of alcohol. (Core Institute, University of Southern Illinois)

(Information adapted from Sexual Assault Services at George Mason University, 2007)

Sedating substances leave anyone vulnerable to sexual assault. The use of drugs and other substances by rapists to sedate their victims is a centuries-old practice. Several medications in particular have received recent media attention regarding sexual assault, these are just a few:

Other ways that victims can be incapacitated are through amphetamines, barbiturates, other benzodiazepines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and alcohol. These drugs may cause drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, impaired motor skills, dizziness, lack of inhibition, impaired judgment, and reduced levels of consciousness. Sedatives combined with alcohol or other drugs may result in extremely low blood pressure, respiratory depression, difficulty breathing, coma, or even death.