'The results challenge rape myths'
One third of women have been sexually taken advantage of while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, new research has found.
The majority of incidents take place in a private home and are carried out by someone known to the victim, as reported in the Global Drugs Survey (GDS), which is published on Thursday.
The GDS is the largest drug survey in the world and was carried out between October and December last year.
Those who said yes were asked to give further contextual information, including where they were, who they were with, and what drug(s) they had been taking.
Out of those surveyed, 29.3 per cent of women responded that they had been taken advantage of and eight per cent said an incident had occurred in the last 12 months. Men also reported being taken advantage of, though at a lower level of roughly eight per cent.
The incidents reported varied and included unwanted kissing, oral sex, sexual touching and penetration.
Almost none of the respondents said they’d reported what had happened to the police, with nearly half (43 per cent) explaining this was because they felt partly responsible.
More than one in four said they had initially consented to sexual activity but later changed their mind.
As for which substances people were under at the time, 87.8 per cent of the reported incidents involved alcohol and 35.5 per cent involved both alcohol and drugs. Cannabis was the most common drug.
Alexandra Aldridge, who designed the sexual assault, consent and intoxication section of the GDS and subsequently analysed the data, said she was unfortunately not especially surprised by the results.
“What I think is most important about the results however, is the extent to which they challenge rape myths,” she tells The Independent.
“We found that most individuals who were taken advantage of experienced this in a private house, with a perpetrator (or perpetrators) already known to them in some capacity (e.g. romantic partner, friend, acquaintance, etc.).
“This really challenges the idea of ‘stranger danger’, where women are advised not to go out alone, particularly at night and when intoxicated.”
Aldridge added that the results show it’s crucial for society to move away from damaging victim blaming narratives, because telling people to change their behaviours so as not to put themselves at risk “can only go so far” when it comes to preventing sexual assault.
“Moving forward, I think it’s essential to put out messages that promote ethical sexual behaviour, particularly when individuals are intoxicated, such as reflecting on the ways that alcohol and other drugs affect feelings around sex,” she continued.
“Communication between sexual partners is important, and we need to feel comfortable in checking in with those we are having sex with to ensure that equal value is placed on the experiences of everyone involved.”