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Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault

Drugs can be used to facilitate sexual assault; giving someone drugs or alcohol with the intent to make them agree to sexual acts is coercion (a form of sexual assault). If someone is incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, they are incapable of communicating consent to sex.

Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in drug-facilitated sexual assault. This could look like giving someone more drinks than they can handle or pouring stronger drinks than they are expecting, or targeting a person who is very drunk and separating them from their friends.

Other drugs used to facilitate sexual assault are commonly referred to as “date-rape drugs.” They are generally odourless, colourless, and tasteless when placed in liquid. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks can be “spiked.” Drink-spiking happens not just by strangers, but by friends, dates, and acquaintances.

What to watch out for

There are a few signs to watch out for, which may indicate you or someone else is in need of help:

  • Impaired judgment or inhibition
  • Dizziness, confusion, trouble with coordination or nausea
  • Memory loss, injuries, blackouts or hallucination
  • Feeling more intoxicated than normal after drinking a certain amount of alcohol
  • Being pressured to drink more or faster than you want to
  • A sober person trying to get a very intoxicated person to separate from their friends

What you can do

There are a few strategies you may choose to use to help yourself and your friends enjoy the night as safely as possible. Regardless of your use of these strategies, if you were sexually assaulted, it is not your fault. Sexual assault is only the fault of the person who perpetrated assault.

  • Agree that all members of your group will leave together
  • Keep an eye on your friends and ask them to do the same
  • Understand that consent cannot be given while incapacitated
  • Knowing that pouring your own drinks or buying them from the bartender gives you more control over what and how much you are drinking
  • Trust your gut—if you feel like something isn’t right, follow your instincts
  • Take your friends seriously if they tell you they suspect something isn’t right

What to do if drink spiking has occurred

If you or someone you know has been spiked:

  • Leave and get to a safe place as quickly and safely as possible, preferably with a friend or person you trust
  • If you see someone leaving an event looking very intoxicated or under suspicious circumstances, check-in with their friends
  • Talk to a trusted friend at the event and let them know you may have been drugged
  • Contact a trusted support person to come get you. If you suspect you have been drugged or are heavily intoxicated, the safest place may be the hospital. Both drug-spiking and alcohol poisoning can have serious health consequences

If you have experienced a drug or alcohol related sexual assault, you may be feeling confused, powerless, humiliated, betrayed, and afraid. Sometimes memories will return and sometimes not. Coping with memory gaps is extremely difficult and can feel isolating. If you are feeling any of these things, you are not alone. We are here for you.