You wake up in the morning with no clothes on, at a place which you don’t call home, on a bed which is not yours.
Whatever happened last night is blurry at the moment. You feel dizzy, but you slowly realize that you spent the night between the sheets with your friend under the influence of alcohol.
You finally gather some courage to confront your friend who is in the kitchen making coffee for you. After a long conversation you figure out that you did not actually consent for sex, but you didn’t say ‘no’ when they started making out with you. Nor did you protest while having sex sometime later.
You feel terrible, disgusted, and regretful. You feel you have been raped.
Are you to blame, your friend, or the alcohol?
According to Developing a Response to Sexual Violence: A Resource Guide For Ontario’s Colleges and Universities by the Ontario Women’s Directorate, consent means giving permission through words or actions, for something to happen. Just because you didn’t say “no”, that doesn’t mean that you said “yes”. If you couldn’t consent because you were drunk or high, the assault is still a crime; if the person who assaulted you was drunk or high, it is still wrong and a crime.
Canadian law defines that no consent is obtained when the complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity, or if they express by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to engage in the activity.
Incapability to consent or lack of capacity can be inferred by the court if there is direct evidence that the complainant was extremely intoxicated; asleep or unconscious when the sexual touching commenced or during all the sexual touching. You can still consent if you’ve been drinking, but not if you’re so drunk you’re incapacitated.
But not all cases get reported.
According to Toronto Police, Sex Crimes Unit’s statistics, it is estimated that 80 per cent of women who are sexually assaulted do not report due to humiliation or fear of re-victimization in the legal process. It also states that date rape has the lowest reporting rate of all forms of sexual assault. It is estimated that only one per cent of all date rapes are reported to police.
The belief which is prevalent in the society today, that sexual assault is expected when alcohol is involved is bogus. It encourages victim blaming. There is a line between consenting to love-making and just taking advantage of someone else’s inebriated state of mind to fulfill your lustful desires.
Alcohol cannot be an excuse for sexual violence. Period.