The reality is that most sexual assaults are carried out by friends, acquaintances, partners, exes or by a person someone has met online or at a party. Perpetrators often rely on substances (with or without a person’s knowledge) to commit sexual assault.
Here are seven things you should know about drug-facilitated sexual assault and drink spiking.
1. What is drug-facilitated sexual assault?
There are two primary ways that drug-facilitated sexual assault occurs.
Many survivors have strong feelings of self-blame after a sexual assault, even when someone takes advantage of them through the use of alcohol or other drugs. It’s important to remember that even when someone chooses to use substances, they are not giving up their bodily autonomy or choosing to be violated. The blame for sexual assault always rests with the person who committed the assault.
2. What substances can be used to facilitate sexual assault?
Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in drug-facilitated sexual assault, but other substances can also be slipped into alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks. This is often referred to as drink spiking.
Substances that are often used to spike drinks include:
3. What should you look out for?
If you’re at a party or out with friends, it’s important to keep an eye out for sketchy situations that may indicate that someone is trying to facilitate sexual assault through the use of alcohol or other drugs.
Watch out for someone who is:
4. What are some common symptoms someone may experience?
Many symptoms of drugging are similar to those someone might experience from excessive drinking or purposefully mixing substances. This is because people can easily lose track of how much they’ve consumed. Additionally, drinking high-proof alcohol (e.g., vodka, tequila, whiskey, etc.) with a mixer or something sweet can increase the likelihood of someone becoming intoxicated quickly.
Drugging often results in sudden changes in how a person feels or behaves. These symptoms typically occur quickly even when someone has consumed very little or no alcohol.
Signs of drugging to watch for:
5. What should you do if you believe someone has been drugged?
If you notice any of the symptoms listed above in yourself or someone else, find a trusted person immediately. Friends and bystanders are particularly important in situations when someone is vulnerable due to their level of intoxication, or if a person has been intentional incapacitated by drugs in an attempt to facilitate sexual assault or other crimes. Impaired and incapacitated people are unable to advocate for and protect themselves.
Learn effective intervention strategies
6. How can you preserve evidence?
If you or someone you know suspects that they have been drugged, steps can be taken to preserve evidence for a possible investigation. Many of these drugs leave the body quickly (typically within 12 to 72 hours). If someone can’t go to the hospital immediately, they can save their urine in a clean, sealable container as soon as possible and place it in the fridge or freezer.
Find support resources or a medical center that can provide sexual assault forensic exams (SANE) and test blood and urine for substances.
7. What support resources are available?
If you believe that you have been drugged or sexually assaulted, there are resources available to help.