Get the facts about drugs and alcohol. There is a common misconception that it is normal for sexual encounters to occur when one or both parties are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In reality, when someone has been incapacitated by these substances, they can no longer provide meaningful consent to sexual activity. In Maryland, it is a crime to have sexual contact with someone who is incapacitated, whether this is through alcohol or drug consumption, psychiatric or medical conditions, or because the person in question is unconscious or sleeping. People who are incapacitated cannot consent to sexual activity--and everyone has a responsibility to make sure that they do not violate people who cannot provide a meaningful "yes."
Drugs and alcohol are often used by assailants to make it harder for their victims to resist the attack. While alcohol is by far the most common "rape drug," other substances such as rohypnol ("roofies") or GHB are also sometimes used to incapacitate potential targets. However, survivors of sexual assault who were incapacitated at the time of the assault are often blamed for what happened to them or accused of simply "regretting" sex. This is both inaccurate and hugely damaging to survivors. The reality is that perpetrators are always the ones responsible for sexual violence, and many perpetrators intentionally target incapacitated people because they are more vulnerable.
In order to engage in any sexual activity, you must have consent. Consent is mutual agreement to engage in sexual activity. Sexual contact without consent is sexual assault or rape.
Consent is specific. Consent to one activity is not consent to all activities. For example, agreeing to oral sex does not mean that someone agrees to vaginal sex. Consent is also specific with regards to time. Consent today does not mean that someone consents to activity tomorrow, and just because someone has agreed to sex in the past does not mean that they agree to sex in the future. This cartoon is a great example of why consent always relates to a particular activity at a particular time.
Consent is active, not passive. You cannot assume that you have someone's consent simply because they have not said "no" or are not resisting. Consent involves active participation and enthusiasm. If a partner seems frozen, spaced-out, or distant, you should always stop and make sure that you have their consent before proceeding.
Students have the right to be free from discrimination based on sex and gender. Your school has the responsibility to make sure your school is safe. Click here to learn more about your rights.
If you want to spread the word about healthy relationships, share information about sexual assault, and help prevent sexual violence on your campus, our resource library is here to help! Our sharable flyers, posters, and brochures are here to help make it easy to get the word out.
Learn more about other actions you can take, both on campus and in the community, to help end the tolerance of sexual violence.