Drug-Facilitated Sexual Violence

What is drug-facilitated sexual violence?

Drug-facilitated sexual violence is violence against an incapacitated person due to the influence of mind-altering substances, such as the consumption of alcohol or drug usage. Although alcohol is the most commonly used substance in drug-facilitated sexual violence, perpetrators may also intentionally give victims drugs. These substances make it easier for the perpetrator to commit sexual violence because they limit a person’s ability to resist. They also decrease the chances the victim will remember the assault.

How does a perpetrator use drugs and alcohol?

A perpetrator may take advantage of a victim’s voluntary use of alcohol or drugs, or the perpetrator may gave the victim a drug without their knowledge. No matter how much a victim drank or how dangerous the situation was, it is never the victim’s fault. The blame falls only on the perpetrator for taking advantage of the victim.

Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in drug-facilitated sexual violence. Perpetrators may also use prescription drugs such as sleep aids, anxiety medication, and tranquilizers to incapacitate the victim. Street drugs such as ecstasy and ketamine can also be added to drinks without changing the taste or color of the drink.

What are the signs you’ve been drugged?

Some drugs impact the body almost immediately, while the first effects of other drugs may go unnoticed. Knowing the warning signs and symptoms can help keep you safe. If you notice any of these warning signs in yourself or someone you know, contact someone you trust immediately.

Here are some warning signs and symptoms to be aware of:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feeling drunk when you’ve consumed very little or no alcohol
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Nausea
  • Sudden change in body temperature
  • Sudden increase in disorientation, dizziness or blurred vision
  • Waking up with no memory or with large time gaps missing

If you suspect you or someone you know was drugged, go to a hospital immediately. Hospitals can help collect and preserve evidence for investigations. Most drugs leave the body within 12 to 72 hours. If you can’t get to a hospital immediately, save your urine in a clean, sealable container as soon as possible, and place it in the refrigerator or freezer. Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) to find a hospital or medical center that can provide you with a sexual assault forensic exam and test your blood and urine for substances.


To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.