Alcohol/Drugs and Sexual Assault

Reports of the use of alcohol and drugs by individuals seeking to sedate potential victims for the purpose of sexually assaulting have increased on college campuses in recent years.

  • The substance most often detected in association with date rape is alcohol; however, alcohol is NEVER the cause of rape. It is a tool that perpetrators often use to decrease a person’s ability to give consent.
  • Because intoxication diminishes a person’s cognitive abilities, someone who has been drinking is more likely to perceive another’s friendly cues as sexual advances. Likewise, if the other person is also drinking, s/he may be unaware that his/her cues are being misperceived.
  • Alcohol use may encourage the expression of traditional male and female roles regarding sexuality. Men may feel obligated to be the aggressor in sexual situations, while women may feel obliged to be passive and submissive.
  • Intoxication may make someone physically less able to resist an assault. Alcohol is often used by perpetrators as an excuse for their actions, and as an attempt to shift responsibility for the assault away from themselves and onto the survivor
  • If a person cannot give consent to a sexual activity due to intoxication, then sexual relations with that person while they are incapacitated meet the legal definition of a sexual assault. If you are unsure about whether your partner is too intoxicated to be able to give consent, wait until s/he is sober so that you can both talk about what you want.