Suspected Drugging In Surprising Number Of Sexual Assault Cases

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

New research shows that one in five sexual assault victims believe they were drugged prior to the assault. The study shows that 20 per cent of sexual assault victims seen in Ontario Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centres (SADVTCs) met pre-determined criteria to support this belief.

“This finding is significant because it shows that drug-facilitated sexual assault is a common problem,” says Dr. Janice Du Mont, research scientist, Women’s College Research Institute and one of the principal investigators of the study.


“We hope our findings will lead to the creation of standardized programs and guidelines that meet the needs of those experiencing this type of victimization.” The study found that drug-facilitated sexual assault victims are more likely to be employed, compared with other sexual assault victims. The research also reveals that these victims are more likely to use alcohol, over-the-counter medications and

street drugs like marijuana and cocaine. Based on these results, the investigators recommend that women be informed that these substances, alone or in combination, may cause them to become incapacitated and more vulnerable to sexual assault. “Whether a woman has consumed substances that contributed to her incapacitation, and/or she was slipped a drug, she is not able to consent to sexual activity and is a victim of drug-facilitated sexual assault,” adds Dr. Du Mont.

“While knowing how to protect yourself is important, we must remember that sexual assault is a societal issue and assailants must always be held accountable for their actions.” Conducted by the SADVTCs in Ontario and the Women’s College Research Institute at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, the study looked at 882 sexual assault victims, mostly women (97 per cent) who visited one of seven Centres across the province. “Providing safety and support to sexual assault victims is always our top priority at Women’s College Hospital and the Sexual As

sault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centres throughout the province,” said Sheila Macdonald, co-principal investigator of the study and provincial coordinator, SADVTCs. “Our advice for those who believe they may have been drugged and/or sexually assaulted is to visit their local SADVTC as soon as possible for testing, treatment and personal support.”