Was I assaulted?
There is a lot of information about sexual assault that can be confusing. Sometimes it is tough to know if what you experienced is a sexual assault especially since you might be reading different things on the internet or hearing different opinions from friends and family if you tell them.
There are many forms of sexual violence, and these include:
- Non-consensual touching of body parts or genitals.
- Non-consensual sexual advances; requests for sexual favors directly affecting your job, school performance, or other parts of your life, if rejected; and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
- Non-consensual sexual intercourse or sexual acts with a friend, partner, spouse, or another person when you did not give consent.
- Sexual contact of any kind by a helping professional (teacher, doctor, therapist, priest, police officer, and others) toward a client.
- Sexual contact inflicted on someone who is legally unable to grant consent.
The common element in all sexual assaults is that one person in the encounter does not give consent to the sexual activity. Therefore, any sexual contact occurring without your explicit consent is sexual assault. If you are a minor, you may not legally be able to consent to any kind of sexual activity based on the age of the perpetrator and state law.
Another important component to remember is most sexual assaults are committed by someone the person knows. The perpetrator could be a date, neighbor, partner, acquaintance, or a trusted friend. In these cases, it is common to feel confused and betrayed.
How do drugs and alcohol affect my ability to give consent?
Drug and alcohol facilitated sexual assault can occur when someone has chosen to drink and/or do drugs, and it can also occur when a perpetrator gives a survivor drugs and/or alcohol without consent. Choosing to drink or use drugs does not give another person permission to hurt you.
Drugs and alcohol, combined with the trauma of an unwanted sexual experience, can cause anxiety, memory loss and/or confusion about what happened. For many people, this uncertainty is scary and difficult. Be gentle with yourself and think about reaching out for support.
- If this has happened to you, you are not alone. A study found that 62% of sexual assaults were drug-facilitated.2 At least 50% of college student sexual assaults are associated with alcohol use.3
- Perpetrators often take advantage of normal social settings where alcohol and drugs are being used in order to create vulnerability and commit sexual assault.
- Perpetrators often pose as “the rescuer” or “the helper. For example, offering to provide a ride home.”