It is estimated that about half of the victims of sexual assault were using alcohol at the time of the assault. An offender may take advantage of a woman who has had too much to drink and is too drunk to resist or consent, or after she has passed out completely. Alcohol can also add to the effects of other drugs, making a person even more vulnerable.
While alcohol is often associated with having a good time and “letting loose”, it also reduces a person’s ability to think clearly and make rational decisions. Under the influence of alcohol, people often “let their guard down” and do things that they would not do when they are sober. Some people become much more aggressive in personality and behaviour when they are drunk.
It is estimated that over half of sexual assaults are committed by men who are under the influence of alcohol at the time of the assault. Of course, being drunk is not an excuse for having committed a sexual assault. It doesn’t make an assault any less of a violation of the victim or reduce the harm that it does. And being drunk does not in any way minimize or reduce the seriousness of the offense in the eyes of the law. A perpetrator may encourage the victim to drink large amounts of alcohol so that the person will be less able to resist the assault. An offender may take advantage of a woman who has had too much to drink and is too drunk to resist or consent, or after she has passed out completely. Being drunk does not make it your fault if you are sexually assaulted.
Rohypnol®, commonly known as “Roofies”, is the brand name of a drug called flunitrazepam. Though it is illegal in Canada and the U.S., it is still prescribed in Mexico to people with sleeping disorders. It is very powerful, and will make a victim very drowsy. If dissolved in a drink, Rohypnol® is odourless and tasteless but may colour the liquid blue or murky because of a special new dye. The effects last about 8 hours and will make you feel like you are very drunk and very tired. It can also blur a victim’s memory for hours after it is taken. When mixed with alcohol, Rohypnol® can cause death. The pills are usually either small, round and white with the word “Roche” printed on them, or green and oval-shaped with the number 542 printed on them.
GHB (also called “G” or “Liquid X”) is usually a colourless liquid - it looks just like water - and can easily be poured into a drink. It will cause a spiked drink to have a slightly soapy or bitter taste. It is very dangerous; it can cause unconsciousness, seizures and even death. Overdoses are very common, particularly when it is mixed with alcohol. The effect of GHB is very similar to the effect of a lot of alcohol, and like Rohypnol®, GHB can blur a victim’s memory for several hours.
Ketamine (also called “K” or “Special K”) is still used legally by veterinarians when performing surgery on animals. It is a very powerful anaesthetic, which means it will dull pain and make a person feel “numb” or pass out. It can also cause a “trance-like” state - sometimes called a “k-hole” - in which a victim may have no idea what is going on around them. Ketamine will cause victims to lose sense of time, and it may also blur their memory. Unlike GHB and Rohypnol®, someone slipped Ketamine will probably not be mistaken for someone who is just “really drunk”. Ketamine also tastes really bad, and is easier to notice when mixed in a drink. Ketamine can cause hallucinations, a deep hypnotic state and “out of body”-like experiences.
Cannabis - Marijuana, Hash, Hash oil
The effects of marijuana and hash are very different from the above drugs, but Cannabis is still the second most common drug found in drug-facilitated sexual assault victims. This is most likely because marijuana and hash are used much more often than other “date-rape” drugs. Still, it highlights an important point: people are at a higher risk of being sexually assaulted whenever they are intoxicated. Smoking marijuana or hash will also add to the effect of alcohol, making a person an easier target for sexual assault.
Drugs make people act in ways that they normally wouldn’t, and many drugs can facilitate a sexual assault even if they don’t have “date-rape” effects like memory loss. On almost any drug, you’re more likely to wind up in an uncomfortable situation, signals are more likely to get crossed, and you may not pick up on the warning signs of a rape or sexually assault. Or you may just have consensual, regrettable sex with someone you otherwise wouldn’t. Some drugs may also make people more likely to commit sexual assault too (among other crimes). The “rave” drug Crystal Meth (speed) has been associated with a lot of high-risk sexual activity, and other drugs like PCP are very unpredictable, and have been known to make people go completely berserk.