Alcohol & Sexual Assault

Survivors of sexual assault who were under the influence of alcohol may not recognize what happened to them as sexual assault. Even though they were unwilling and/or unable to participate, survivors may feel self-blame or shame for "drinking too much." It's important to know that these are common reactions to being assaulted, but that sexual assault is never the fault of the survivor, and that no one EVER deserves to be assaulted. Anyone should be able to consume alcohol and still be treated with respect by others.

There is a common misunderstanding that "knockout" drugs are the most prevalent substances used by a person to inhibit sexual boundaries in another. The reality is that alcohol is used more than any other substance to facilitate sexual assault and rape. Perpetrators will often consume alcohol to enable themselves to pressure or force someone else into have sex. They may also encourage or pressure victims in to consuming alcohol to a point of impairment or incapacitation.

For the perpetrator, lacking awareness of the assault because of drunkenness does not mean lacking the intent. Having no memory of assaulting a person does not mean that it did not happen or that it is justifiable. Alcohol is NEVER an excuse to cover up a violent sexual act.

Some Signs that May Lead to Sexual Assault When Alcohol is Involved

  • A social situation with alcohol and bystanders encouraging risky behavior
  • A person or group of persons actively creating a situation in which two or more people are isolated
  • A social situation where bystanders do not call out inappropriate behaviors and check in on potential targets of isolation or pressure
  • A person putting pressure on another for a sexual encounter
  • A person or group of people touching, harrassing, or otherwise violating the physical boundaries of others

For more information on alcohol and other drugs, please visit the Campus Alcohol & Drug Education Center.