The Hard Facts
Drug-facilitated sexual assault is a terrible crime: Sex is an intimate act. Sexual assault is not. It’s about power, it’s about fear and it’s about control. During an assault, a woman may be beaten injured or even killed. The “date-rape” drugs can also be fatal, especially if they’re mixed with alcohol. Even when physical violence or drugging isn’t involved, victims may be emotionally scarred, and may not be able to feel safe again for a long time.
Drug-facilitated sexual assault may happen a lot more often than we think: Most of these crimes are never reported to police, never solved or never proven. There are a lot of reasons why women don’t report the crime to police. A lot of the drugs used in drug-facilitated sexual assault, including alcohol, can wreak havoc on a person’s memory, and some women may never know for sure if they were assaulted. Some women may also think that the police won’t believe them, or feel that it was partly their fault. Others may just want to put the whole thing behind them.
Never “asking” for anything
Drug-facilitated sexual assault victims are never responsible: Survivors of sexual assault may blame themselves for what happened. They may be ashamed or feel as though they were “asking for it” by drinking too much or by dressing and acting a certain way. The truth is, the way you dress or act is never “asking” for anything - the only way to “ask for sex” is by actually asking for sex.
The most common “date-rape” drug is not Rohypnol® - it’s alcohol: Most people think of drug-facilitated sexual assault, they tend to think of “date-rape” drugs being slipped into a woman’s drink when she’s not looking. This type of drugging does happen, but for now at least, it’s probably pretty rare in Canada. More often, the victims of sexual assault are women who have merely had too much to drink, and are sexually assaulted after they have passed out or are too drunk to resist.
Not by strangers
Most drug-facilitated sexual assaults are committed by a person the victim knows or trusts - not by strangers: Many of these crimes are crimes of opportunity - for example, a man sexually assaults a woman who is drunk or on drugs because he sees her as an “easy target”. For this reason, it’s pretty common for the victim to know the person who assaults them. A lot of times drug-facilitated sexual assault is committed by a friend or acquaintance, by a date or a boyfriend, and sometimes even by a husband or family member. About 75% of all rapes are committed by a date or acquaintance.
Women are almost always the victims of drug-facilitated sexual assault, and female teenagers and young women are at the most risk: Women between the ages or 16 and 24 are believed to be four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other women in other age groups1. But while women are almost always the victims of drug-facilitated sexual assault, it can happen to anyone - even men.
Statistics on drug-facilitated sexual assault:
- About 25% of women report that drugs were a factor in a rape
- Most of these crimes either go unrecognized, unreported, unsolved, or unproven
- Some of the drugs used to facilitate sexual assault or rape can be fatal when mixed with alcohol.
- “Date-rape” drugs are also commonly used recreationally, putting the user at risk of sexual assault.
- Adolescent females (16-19 years) and young adult women (20-24 years) are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than women in other age groups.
- Most sexual assaults are committed by an acquaintance or date
- It is estimated that approximately 75% of all rapes are date or acquaintance rapes
- The most frequently detected drug in victims of drug-facilitated sexual assault is alcohol. The second most common is marijuana.