By Michelle Wolff, CCASA Blogger
I want better jury pools in this country. I want everyday people who are sitting in jury boxes to understand that just as a burglar cases out your house in advance of stealing your plasma screen TV so does a rapist scout out a victim in advance of the attack.
Perpetrators are looking for people that they perceive as vulnerable or who they can make vulnerable. This can be anyone. They’re looking for mentally ill people, people who have developmental delays, people who work in the sex industry, people who are drinking or people that they can manipulate into drinking too much by pressure or drugs added, etc. They are looking for people who can be easily dismissed if they decide to report the crime against them.
Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault (DFSA) is a term that’s heard fairly often and for some reason comes with a different set of parameters with regard to public perception of sexual assault survivors. It seems to come with slightly higher levels of understanding from the general public if someone was raped after being drugged as opposed to being drunk.
But wait, isn’t an alcohol a drug also? Why yes little Johnny it is. Let’s just define what “drug” means first of all. Noun: A substance that has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body, in particular. Verb: Administer a drug to someone in order to induce stupor or insensibility.
I don’t know about anyone else but when I “ingest” a bunch of alcohol I feel some physiological effects some pleasant, some not so much. I notice some psychological effects too and while it’s true I’ve never danced with a lamp, I have had long philosophical discussions on the meaning of life with my dog. As I recall they were pretty interesting and her opinions were both amusing and profound.
By definition alcohol is a drug used specifically as a tool by perpetrators, therefore rape involving alcohol is a drug facilitated sexual assault. The perpetrator uses alcohol to facilitate the crime. DFSA happens regardless of if the victim poured 10 glasses of Wild Turkey down his or her own throat or was helped along by extra shots in drinks, peer pressure, etc.
For some incomprehensible reason people are making a distinction between these two. I have heard comments such as “Oh well he put a drug in her drink” said with a tone of compassion because in our culture it doesn’t seem ok to have compassion if someone was drunk and raped. Then the comment becomes, “Oh well you know she was drunk” which is a much different tone and can carry crippling levels of judgment.
Why aren’t we saying, “Offenders target their victims for very specific reasons and it doesn’t really matter what the victim was doing/wearing/saying at the time?”
Why is there such a lack of connection in understanding that the same calculating creep who would place a pill in a drink is the exact same calculating creep that looks for, or helps to create, “drunk chicks,” specifically because they are less likely to fight being raped and less likely to be believed afterward?
So the victim was drugged. Whether that was with a roofy or some extra Jack Daniels makes no difference and I for one am frankly pretty fed up with cases being lost in prosecution because the victim was drunk at the time.
I remember getting drunk as a teen trying to find my way to adulthood and trying to learn about moderation. I ended many a night vomiting out of the bed of someone’s pickup truck (I lived in the country). I feel very lucky not to have ended one of those nights in an emergency room getting a sexual assault exam considering how nearly comatose I was at times. I was just lucky that I wasn’t in the presence of an offender looking for a victim.
As a refresher, these are natural consequences for drinking too much: vomiting, loss of memory, serious parental disapproval and threats of “being grounded for life”, spending too much money, saying stupid things to your friends and sneaking into apartment complex swimming pools (hey it was Texas! It was freakin’ hot!)
This is not a natural consequence for drinking too much: rape.
When you hear people making a distinction between victims who were raped while drugged or raped while drunk please speak up. Please say in whatever way you can – alcohol is a drug too and offenders target people who are drunk because they are unable to resist and because they are likely to be seen as unreliable reporters of crimes against them. Rape can only happen when there is an offender present.
Please say it because it’s true. Please say it because we have got to start getting more convictions in these cases if we are ever to reduce the number of tragedies occurring on a daily basis in this country.