It’s Not Your Fault – Sexual Assault, Alcohol and Drugs

If you have become the victim of sexual assault while under the influence, then you are not alone. The 2019 Global Drug Survey found that a third of female respondents, as well as 6% of men, have been taken advantage of sexually whilst intoxicated. Regarding incidents in the last 12 months, alcohol was involved in almost 90%– with one third involving other drugs too.

If you’ve been sexually assaulted, it’s not your fault. Being under the influence doesn’t make you culpable, nor does it diminish the trauma of sexual assault. It’s a crime, whether or not substances are involved.

Unfortunately, the 2019 Global Drug Survey points to widespread under-reporting of sexual assault when alcohol and drugs are involved. 97% of victims do not go to the police. In this blog, we’ll look at the reasons why they aren’t getting the help they need.

For many of our clients, alcohol and drug treatment is the gateway to trauma recovery – including when they have experienced sexual assault in the past. If you don’t wish to call us for help, please speak to a trusted person instead – your GP, a counsellor, a close friend or relative. Recovery begins when you let the right people in.

Sexual Assault, Alcohol and Drugs – Why Aren’t Victims Going to the Police?

In the last 12 months, 49% of sexual assault victims who had been drinking or taking drugs did not give their consent to initiate sexual activity. Only 25% did. Responses to the Global Drug Survey 2019 suggest that many sexual assault victims are suffering from ongoing trauma in connection to what happened to them. Despite these statistics, only 3% of the victims went to the police, and it is important to know why.

Here are the main reasons why victims did not reach out for help

  • 43% did not report it to police because they felt partly responsible
  • 43% did not think what happened was a crime
  • 25% said they did not report it because the perpetrator was in their friendship group
  • 20% didn’t want others to find out
  • 16% felt shame or stigma
  • 10% did not report it because drugs were involved.

Victims are feeling responsible for someone else’s behaviour towards them. They are feeling ashamed rather than supported. They are fearing repercussions if they speak out. They are minimising or reframing what happened, taking the blame where they shouldn’t.

Additionally, some people struggle to remember exactly what happened, which can compound the trauma – 13% of sexual assault victims who were under the influence can’t recall events clearly and 3% say they can’t remember anything.

Sexual Assault, Alcohol and Drugs – Recovering from Trauma and Addiction

Given the complex picture around sexual assault and intoxication, it’s clear that much more needs to be done to encourage victims to seek help.

If you’re using alcohol or drugs harmfully, then the best start for your recovery is specialist addiction treatment. By putting down addictive substances with professional help, your therapeutic rehabilitation can begin. If you choose residential treatment, skilled therapists and recovery workers will support you intensively. They are trained to help you to process your emotions and past experiences in safer ways, so you can overcome cravings to use.

It’s also really important to say that trauma recovery takes time. If you’ve been sexually assaulted, you may feel ready to discuss it early in your recovery or after many months or years of therapy. There is no right or wrong way to recover. Some of our clients prefer to focus on their substance abuse recovery first before exploring their most painful experiences. Others find that residential rehab treatment, which includes 1-2-1 and group therapy, provides them with a very safe environment to start opening up.

The most important thing to know is that you are in charge of your recovery process. You decide what you want to talk about and when. You can speak in private to a counsellor of your choice. Or you can begin expressing your emotions through alternative therapies, without directly talking about specific events. The main focus of addiction treatment is your recovery from drugs, alcohol abuse, or any other addictive processes. Once this is achieved, the full healing process can begin.

Please contact UKAT for an addiction assessment and details on our CQC-rated addiction treatment programmes. We want to reassure all victims of sexual assault that you will be treated with dignity and respect.