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Drug-assisted sexual abuse

One in five victims who reported a sexual assault to a sexual assault treatment center had been a victim of drug-assisted sexual assault.

What is drug addiction?

Drug-Based Sexual Violence (DFSA) occurs when alcohol or other drugs are used to deliberately calm or incapacitate a person for the purpose of committing sexual violence without consent. “In essence, a person uses disabling drugs as a weapon to facilitate sexual assault.”

The Canadian Criminal Code (Article 273.1) defines consent as “to engage in sexual activity involving the voluntary consent of the complainant”. “If the person cannot consent to the activity (ie the person is intoxicated, stoned, unconscious) the permit cannot be obtained (see permit infographics).

The most common perception of how the DFSA might happen is when the offender puts drugs in the drink of an unsuspecting victim. This is considered a ‘proactive’ DFSA. An ‘active’ DFSA also includes handing out large amounts of alcohol to someone for the purpose of sexual abuse. The police often deal with the “opportunistic” DFSA.

Types of drug-facilitated sexual assault

Proactive – the abuser puts the drug in the victim’s drink or delivers alcohol until the victim is drunk and incompetent.

Opportunist – l the attacker targets the already drunk or incompetent DFSA victim.

Victims are often employed, with about a third of students. In half of the cases reported by the DFSA, the victim has been assaulted by a friend or acquaintance. Most of the time, victims socialize at clubs, bars, lounges, restaurants, parties or other social events. Right before the attack Compared to other victims of sexual violence, DFSA victims were more likely to drink alcohol and use over-the-counter drugs (cough syrup) and street drugs (marijuana) before the attack. Most DFSA victims suspected they were drugged by a drink. To know more.

It is important for women to realize that certain substances (eg alcohol, over-the-counter drugs, street drugs), alone or in combination, can cause and may result in disabilities (eg dizziness, weakness, lightheadedness). This is a situation more vulnerable to the DFSA. However, the voluntary use of these medications is in no way a form of consent or permission to engage in sexual activity.

What drugs are used for drug-assisted sexual assault?

Many drugs can be used in DFSA. Alcohol is known as the most common drug. Other drugs include illicit/street drugs (eg, marijuana; cocaine; amphetamines; MDMA/MDA aka “ecstasy” or “molly”); over-the-counter medications (antihistamines; cough syrup); prescription drugs (eg, antidepressants; pain relievers); and what are commonly referred to as “rape drugs” (e.g. flunitrazepam, also known as Rogipnol, used to treat severe insomnia; the hydroxybutyrate range, also known as GHB).

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • MDMA / MDA
  • Rohypnol
  • Muscle relaxants
  • GHB
  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Painkillers

What are the signs that a woman is having sex?

Most victims suffering from DFSA report total or partial memory loss at the time of the attack. Many victims also reported loss of consciousness or “fainting”; Have hangover symptoms that are not matched by alcohol or drug consumption; confusion, dizziness and/or sleepiness; and/or nausea or vomiting has occurred. Many victims have the vague feeling that something sexual has happened and often wake up to see that they are not wearing clothes or that their clothes are messy. Slightly less than half of the victims who experienced DFSA were injured in the attack. 

Reasons to postpone seeking help include:

  • effects of drugs / alcohol used
  • lack of knowledge about available services
  • confusion about what happened
  • self-blame

How to respond to and prevent sexual abuse 4 drugs. society, we often place the responsibility for women’s safety. However, preventing DFSA and all other forms of sexual assault should be a social issue. The public must be informed about sexual violence and how to intervene to help women at risk and prevent sexual violence in general.

First Responders

It is important that first responders are informed about DFSA and the impact on victims. Defendants must be able to recognize the symptoms or circumstances associated with drug use and sexual abuse. Rescuers can support victims and / or escort them to treatment centers or emergency rooms. They can help preserve the forensic evidence by advising the victim not to eat, drink, bathe, change clothes, etc. More importantly, the first responder can provide emotional support to the victim and tell them it’s not their fault.