Drug Facilitated Sexual Assaults in the Military

AlcoholTime to learn more about drug facilitated sexual assaults since they seem to be so prevalent in the US military. Not only did I personally go through this kind of chemical restraint as a new recruit in the Air National Guard but in my work as a victim advocate, I have seen the same modus operandi used over and over by enemies within the ranks.  These very skilled perpetrators are using alcohol and illegal drugs to create an opportunity or carry out a premeditated plan to take control of their victim.  As a result of going through the experience of being drugged, I can tell you that because I never thought I would be a victim of a crime like this, I had a hard time accepting that it happened. I was stunned that someone was able to overpower me either physically or through the use of illicit drugs. I never imagined that others would use a drug or alcohol as a weapon to facilitate the crime. It is an insidious form of violence and it’s time to call it what it actually is: Drug Facilitated Sexual Assaults.

Drug facilitated assault: when drugs or alcohol are used to compromise an individual’s ability to consent to sexual activity. In addition, drugs and alcohol are often used in order to minimize the resistance and memory of the victim of a sexual assault.

According to RAINN, “Alcohol remains the most commonly used chemical in crimes of sexual assault, but there are also substances being used by perpetrators including: Rohypnol, GHB, GBL, etc.” Perpetrators will often groom the victim so that they can set up the environment to use the alcohol or drugs to incapacitate their victims.  Grooming involves the process of attempting to set up or stage individuals for sexual abuse by using a variety of methods to promote trust. Offenders who are strangers to the survivor as well as offenders who are family or known to the survivor will use grooming behaviors. Grooming will often build trust between offenders and other people (the survivor, caretakers of the survivor, etc.) to break down defenses, and give offenders easier access to others (Help in Healing, A Training Guide for Advocates).

Diminished capacity exists when an individual does not have the capacity to consent. Reasons for this inability to consent include, but are not limited to: sleeping, drugged, passed out, unconscious, mentally incapacitated, etc. It is important to understand diminished capacity because oftentimes victims of sexual assault in these situations blame themselves because they drank, did drugs, etc. It is essential to emphasize that it is not his or her fault, that the aggressor is the one who took advantage of his or her diminished capacity. Some of the drugs used to facilitate the drug induced sexual assault include Rohypnol, GHB, GBL, Benzodiazepines, Ketamine, and Ecstasy. (RAINN.org)

Example of Predator in Action: Air National Guard Recruiter Rapes New Recruit

As we learn more about the modus operandi of predators, we learn that not only do they groom their victims and use alcohol and drugs to incapacitate them, but they also have behaviors that are specific to sex offenders (Salter, 1995):

  • Attitudes of ownership and entitlement
  • Engaging in anti-social behavior
  • Engaging in other criminal, possible non-sexual crimes
  • Isolating others, particularly women
  • Failure to consider injury to others

As a result of losing that control, I no longer trust the bar environments, drinking with others, or drinking and losing control in any fashion. But for those of you who do want to go out and have fun, here are some safety tips for safe drinking from RAINN.

  1. Don’t leave your drink unattended while talking, dancing, using the ladie’s room, or making a phone call.
  2. At parties, don’t drink from punch bowls or other large, common open containers.
  3. If someone offers to get you a drink from the bar at the club or party, go with them to the bar to order it, watch it being poured, and carry it yourself.
  4. Watch out for your friends, and vice versa. Always leave the party or bar together. If a friend seems out of it, is way too drunk for the amount of liquor she’s had, or is acting out of character, get her to a safety place immediately.
  5. If you think you or a friend has been drugged, call 911, and be explicit with doctors so they’ll give you the right tests (you’ll need a urine test and possibly others). The National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-HOPE) can often send an advocate to the hospital to help you through the whole process.

Lastly, if you are in the military and you want safe and confidential service from a non-governmental organization created by one of our own (free of worrying about whether or not your Chain of Command is going to find out), please contact us at www.stopmilitaryrape.org. We will support you and help you navigate the military sexual assault services available to you.

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