Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

Drug-facilitated sexual assault refers to situations in which alcohol or other drugs are used to impair a person’s ability to consent to sexual activity. These substances, such as anti-anxiety medication, sleep medication, tranquilizers, and Rohypnol (“roofies”), inhibit a person’s ability to give consent and can cause a gap in memory. "Drink-spiking," or drugging someone without their consent is a criminal act and a serious violation of bodily autonomy. Not all drugging is associated with sexual assault, but historically these types of drugs have been used to facilitate sexual assault. It is important to remember that alcohol is the substance most commonly used to incapacitate someone and to facilitate sexual assault. Sexual assault is never the fault of the victim. 

Common symptoms of a drug-facilitated sexual assault include: 
  • Difficulty breathing

  • Feeling drunk when you’ve consumed no or very little alcohol

  • Loss of bowel or bladder control

  • Nausea

  • Sudden body temperature change (look for sweating or chattering teeth)

  • Sudden dizziness, disorientation, or blurred vision

  • Waking up with no memory or large gaps in memory

  • Remembering the assault, but being unable to move or speak during it 

If you see someone who you think may have been drugged, remember the five D’s of how to be a pro-social bystander: Direct, Distract, Distance, Delegate, Document. Try using one or more of these techniques to get the person someplace safe(r). Consider getting medical help, especially if they lose consciousness. Make sure they are not left alone.

Medical Care and Testing for Date Rape Drugs

If you suspect that you or a friend has been drugged, we encourage you to seek medical care. BEMCo or off-campus first-responders can evaluate the situation and determine what medical care, including observation, may be necessary. 

Unfortunately, testing for the presence of drugs in your system can be difficult. It may be possible to test your urine for drugs, but the test must be done very soon after ingesting the substance(s). It is ideal for the first urine after an assault or drugging to be stored in a clean container, as the likelihood of detecting drugs used in the assault decreases each time you urinate. If you do have a urine toxicology test performed, getting a negative result does not necessarily mean you were not drugged. For this test, we recommend one of these two options:

  1. A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) exam at the hospital. As part of the evidence collection process, a urine test can be performed. The closest SANE location to Brandeis is Newton-Wellesley hospital. For more information about SANE Exams, click here. 
  2. The on-campus health center is not able to perform urinalysis testing for common drug-facilitated sexual assault drugs, but you can go to the Quest Diagnostics Lab in Waltham. Your insurance may or may not cover these tests, but PARC may be able to help with costs not covered as well as help with transportation costs if you need.  

Most people who experience drugging do not have access to blood or urine testing to accurately determine what substance(s), if any, were ingested. You do not need to have been given a drug test to report what you experienced to the university or to law enforcement. If you are interested in reporting your experience, PARC can discuss this process with you and assist you in reporting it.