‘The reality is that it's alcohol as the number one thing used for a drug-facilitated sexual assault.'
Matthew Huffman is the Public Affairs Director for the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, and Joan Masters is the Senior Coordinator of Partners in Prevention – a coalition of 24 Missouri colleges and universities working toward healthy and safe campuses.
They spoke about drug-facilitated sexual assaults and how those have changed during the last few decades – from perpetration using illegal substances like rohypnol, or roofies, to legally obtainable drugs and even – just alcohol.
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Matthew Huffman: I think a really common narrative that we all heard in high school and going into college was to look out for being “roofied,” and I don't think that that is a narrative that has really evolved since then.
Unfortunately, what we really know about drug-facilitated sexual assault is that the quote unquote roofie, which I think is often kind of still thought of as a club drug, or some sort of drug that can really easily be slipped into a drink and concealed, the reality of that is that it's alcohol as the number one thing used for a drug-facilitated sexual assault.
And I think that's the conversation that really needs to happen.
But I think we need to have really honest and realistic conversations that drug-facilitated sexual assault occurs with alcohol, and oftentimes things that you can get over-the-counter like Benadryl, or a sleep aid, like Ambien.
Joan Masters: It's really the same thing, you know, the terminology means the same. It's just that some sort of substance other than what you think you're consuming – and how you expect that content consumption to go – it’s changing.
"Sexual Assault has nothing to do with sex, it has everything to do with power and control."Joan Masters, Partners in Prevention
Matthew: And Joan, I think that that's also a really important way of talking about what is drug-facilitated sexual assault and helping to give a better understanding of what that actually means.
So, drug-facilitated sexual assault is a crime, and I think that's a really important thing to recognize – that whenever a perpetrator of this sexually assaults someone while they're incapacitated or unconscious, that that is a crime. Individuals who are incapacitated and under the influence cannot consent.
And so, I think that's also a really important distinction, because, unfortunately, so often, I think survivors of drug-facilitated sexual assault can feel a lot of blame and shame and guilt – thinking, “if I'd only done something differently, maybe this wouldn't have happened.”
But I think it's really important that we shift that over to say, “there was nothing you could have done to prevent this” because you couldn't consent to it.
Joan: Sexual Assault has nothing to do with sex, it has everything to do with power and control. And having that information about a young person under 21 who's engaging in alcohol is the power and control that that perpetrator is using against that person.
As friends, as bystanders, as the people who are supporting someone – a survivor that maybe has gone through this – is to be able to know, in our heads, that that is 100 percent the marketing campaign of perpetration.
It is not it's not the truth, and it couldn't be further from it.