Mention date rape drugs and most people imagine a sleazy guy slipping an exotic chemical into woman’s drink so that he can take advantage of her sexually. In reality, the alcohol is the most common date rape drug, and has been for centuries. Research tells us that alcohol is involved in most cases of sexual assault. The victim, the perpetrator, or both individuals will likely be under the influence of alcohol around the time of a sexual assault. Several factors enter into this equation, which rarely has a good outcome.
First, decreased inhibitions related to alcohol lead to risky behaviors. The quiet woman from the secretarial pool who has a few drinks at a party may not be over the legal limit, but she seems to be much more social and sexual innuendos slip into her conversation. She may not even be aware that she said anything provocative, but her male co-worker assumes that she has taken an interest in him. He has mistaken her uninhibited behavior with more amorous overtones. In most cases this scenario may play out with an embarrassing moment; at worst, however, it can lead to a sexual assault. The latter outcome becomes much more likely if the man has been drinking as well. We hear about such situations between men and women more commonly, but the same can happen amongst homosexuals or inadvertently between homosexuals and heterosexuals.
I met someone recently who was accused of sexually harassing a female co-ed while he was in college. In hindsight, he realized that he that he should not have encouraged her to go to a drinking party with him and his friends off campus. Only later did he realize that she was underage. Nevertheless, he was charged with sexual assault, which did not make any sense to him. Since he knew that he was gay from the time he was in grammar school, he assured me that sexual assault or even attraction was not on his mind at the time. He had been drinking that day, so somehow his impaired judgment certainly made a first impression he definitely regretted. If alcohol could make this gay young man seems sexually aggressive to a woman, think of the way a straight guy might seem with a little alcohol on board. Of course, most men who drink do not come across as sexual predators, but statistics show that most sexual assault does involve alcohol in at least one of the individuals involved in this crime.
In the above case, the woman had also been drinking. As it true I many cases of date rape, the victim also shows poor judgment due to drinking. That does not justify the rape, but it does represent a complicating factor, as alcohol lowers inhibitions and may make a woman seem more interested in a sexual encounter than she intends. A little impaired judgment on her part combined with a bit of misinterpretation by the guy can equal an unfortunate sexual encounter that might haunt both parties once they are sober.
In a worse case scenario, one person might become so intoxicated that he or she no longer has the capacity to exercise any sort of judgment. They may pass out and may not even be aware that someone had intercourse with them until it is too late. However, the law is clear from recent court decisions: It protects a person who is too incapacitated from alcohol to give consent or resist a sexual advance. Like a bartender who becomes culpable if he continues to serve a person who is too drunk to drive, having sex with someone who is too intoxicated to resist is considered a crime. On the other hand, the legal code does not condone sexually aggressive behaviors by someone who is drunk. The bottom line is that our courts rightly protect victims, even if they are intoxicated, and intoxication is a feeble excuse for anyone charged with sexual assault in the eyes of the law. That said, drinking more than one intends represents a definite risk factor.