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Alcohol, Drugs, and Sexual Assault

Alcohol and Drug-facilitated Sexual Assault

Please don't let underage drinking keep you from getting help!

There are more than 30 substances that can incapacitate you and make you an easier target for sexual assault. If you believe you have been drugged  or “dosed, it is important to seek assistance in the event you might have been sexually assaulted.  Most drugs used for non-stranger sexual assault, “date rape” , fall under one of these categories:

  • sedatives: make you feel weak or knock you unconscious
  • dissociative drugs: make you feel disconnected from or unable to control your body
  • hallucinogens: make you hallucinate and disoriented
  • drugs that cause amnesia.

These drugs take away your control so that the perpetrator is the one in charge of the situation. In certain doses, any drug can leave you helpless. In other words, any drug can be used in a sexual assault, including alcohol, marijuana, Ecstasy, and other drugs, as well as “traditional” non-stranger “date rape” drugs such as GHB, Rohypnol and Ketamine.

Alcohol is almost always involved in non-stranger rape. Alcohol is not only the original substance, but the most popular substance used to facilitate sexual assault.  When other drugs that aid in facilitating sexual assault are used, they are usually hidden in alcoholic drinks.  It is important to note that even non-alcoholic beverages can be “dosed” with these drugs too.

More information on a few of the substances used to facilitate sexual assault:


Consent and Non-consent

Effective consent involves the presence of explicit verbal consent or overt action clearly expressing consent. Such signals of consent must be mutual and ongoing. Consent, in other words, “refers to positive cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will – it basically means that a person must freely and voluntarily act with knowledge of the nature of the act.” Silence, in and of itself, does not convey consent. “Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable clear permission regarding willingness to engage in (and the conditions of) sexual activity.” 

Non-consent is the absence of explicit verbal consent or overt action clearly expressing consent. Such signals of consent must be mutual and ongoing. Consent obtained through fraud or force, whether that force is physical or through threats, intimidation or coercion is not regarded as legitimate consent.

Effective consent is also absent when the activity in question exceeds the scope of effective consent previously given. “Previous relationships or prior consent cannot imply consent to future sexual acts.”

It is the responsibility of the initiator (the person who wants to engage in the specific sexual activity) to make sure that they have consent from their partner. Use of alcohol or drugs shall not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain consent.

Consent obtained through fraud or force, whether that force is physical or through threats, intimidation or coercion, is not regarded as effective consent. “Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. Coercive behavior differs from seductive behavior based on the type of pressure someone uses to get consent from another. When someone makes clear to you that they do not want sex, that they want to stop, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive. NOTE: There is no requirement that a party resist the sexual advance or request, but resistance is a clear demonstration of non-consent. The presence of force is not demonstrated by the absence of resistance. Sexual activity that is forced is by definition non-consensual, but non-consensual sexual activity is not by definition forced.”

If an alleged victim is under the age of consent as defined by state law or is declared unable to give consent due to a mental or physical condition, and the respondent either knew that fact or reasonably should have known that fact, the respondent will likely be found responsible for Sexual Misconduct.

“Sexual activity with someone who one should know to be – or based on the circumstances should reasonably have known to be – mentally or physically incapacitated (by alcohol or other drug use, unconsciousness or blackout), constitutes a violation of this policy.” Incapacitation is a state where someone cannot make informed, rational judgments and decisions “because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the ‘who, what, when, where, why or how’ of their sexual interaction).”

Examples of incapacitation include, but are not limited to, the following: a person who is extremely intoxicated and has passed out, is experiencing blackouts, or is asleep.

Where alcohol is involved, incapacitation is defined with respect to how the alcohol consumed impacts a person’s decision-making capacity, awareness of consequences, and ability to make fully informed judgments. This policy also covers a person whose incapacity results from the taking of rape drugs.

The quotes in this section come from Sokolow, B.A., Lewis, W.S. and Schuster, S. K. (2011).  ATIXA.  Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Model Policy.  PA:  National Center for Higher Education Risk Management and Association of Title IX Administrators.

Reporting – Any member of the College Community or any other person who believes that a violation of this Policy may have occurred on college property or during the conduct of a college program or activity regardless of the location of that program or activity should report the alleged incident to either Public Safety, OVS or the Office of the Dean of Students.  Alleged violations off campus should also be reported.


Initiating Conduct Action - While it’s the choice of a student to determine whether he/she will initiate conduct action for a violation, we strongly encourage a student to do so.

Contact Dr. Jeri O. Cabot, Dean of Students, Office of Student Affairs, 3rd Floor Stern Student Center, or call 843.953.5522 for more information.

A student who becomes a victim of sexual misconduct committed by another student:

  • Has the right to file charges and pursue criminal prosecution and conviction of a perpetrator whether the incident occurs on or off campus.
  • May choose to initiate campus proceedings in addition to criminal proceedings.


Retaliation Not Tolerated - The College’s Student Sexual Misconduct Policy prohibits adverse treatment of employees or students for exercising their rights under its Student Sexual Misconduct Policy.  Any good faith report of sexual misconduct, experienced or observed, or participation in any manner in an investigation or resolution of a sexual misconduct should be made without fear of retaliation.  Retaliation includes but is not limited to threats, intimidation, reprisals, and/or adverse actions related to employment or education.  Violators will be subject to the immediate consideration of disciplinary and/or remedial action.