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Myth: Drugs, alcohol and rape

Myth: Drugs, alcohol and rape

2 February, 2017
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In this series of blogs, we expose some of the myths that surround sexual abuse and sexual violence. The series is part of National Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

The aim is to highlight how damaging these myths can be and how important it is to raise awareness of sexual abuse and sexual violence to both prevent and effectively respond to victims and survivors. IDAS employ Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) who support survivors with both practical guidance and emotional support. These accounts are based on real life events; however, some details have been changed to preserve the anonymity of the survivors. The content of the blogs may be upsetting for some people as they depict the circumstances of the violence or abuse experienced by the survivor as they recall it. The survivors have given their permission for these accounts to be published to help dispel the myths.

This account outlines the experience of a young person who was raped at a festival. She had been drinking and was not able to consent to sex because she had been given the date rape drug GHB.

"I’ve been going to the same festival every year since I was 15. I looked forward to it every year as I got to see the friends I had made there who I didn’t see in everyday life. You’ve ruined that for me though."

"I can’t even really tell you what happened. I was dancing with my friends, drinking beer then I was in the tent with you. I vaguely remember being dragged in but I didn’t recognise the tent. It went black."

"When I woke you were over me, having sex with me but my body was lifeless under you."

"I came round again and you were still there. I didn’t recognise your face. My vision was blurry but I was only on my third beer? The darkness came back."

"When I woke again it was much colder, darker. You were no longer there. I quickly grabbed my clothes, dressed and left the tent. I had no idea where I was. My head was throbbing and my eyes were struggling to focus."

"I ran to the nearest person and said I had just had sex. They looked at me and laughed me off as a drunk idiot. I stumbled on until I found someone in a high Vis jacket. They phoned one of my friends and when they arrived they took us to the Sexual Assault Referral Centre."

"I tried to tell them as much as I could but everything was black. I had a forensic medical and was given some spare clothes. Once I felt up to it I returned to the festival. Everything felt different. I just wanted to go home and cry."

"When my samples came back they found GHB in my system as well as alcohol. This is a date rape drug. They also identified a suspect who claimed it was consensual and that I was just a little drunk and was probably embarrassed at my lack of inhibition."

"I was so out of it, I barely even knew what was happening, let alone being in a fit state to give valid consent. I was raped."

It is not possible to give consent to sex without the capacity to do so. It is a myth that being drunk means that someone is asking for it, the opposite is true. Someone who is drunk or on drugs may be deemed not to have the capacity to consent. In this case the date rape drug GHB was found to be in the survivor's system.

Further reading:

National Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness week:

The statutory definition of consent in law:

Sexual Offences Act



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