Excessive drinking can lead you to make poor decisions – you may feel safe when you aren't, you could drive drunk or get into a fight. Alcohol is the most common drug used to assist sexual assault, as it can affect your actions and reactions. Someone could also add a drug to your drink without you knowing, an action called drink spiking. This is rare, but it can happen.
If your drink is spiked it probably won't look any different. It only takes a second to drop in an aspirin-sized pill, some powder or a few drops of liquid into your drink. If you are in a noisy pub or club or at a party you probably wouldn't notice, especially if you have been drinking. The effects of these drugs can start in 10 to 20 minutes – you could feel dizzy, sleepy, uninhibited, relaxed and open to suggestion. This is when you can be at risk of rape and sexual assault. Later, as the effects peak, you might be unconscious and not able to defend yourself or even remember what happened.
Going to a pub, club or party
If you are going out to a pub, club or party, think ahead, avoid risky situations and keep you and your friends safe. There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of accidents and physical or sexual assault.
Getting ready to go out
- Take your mobile phone.
- Make sure someone else knows where you are going.
- Plan how you and your friends will get home – keep aside money for bus fares or a taxi.
- If you are driving, decide who is going to be your sober driver.
- Decide on a meeting point for the end of the night.
At the pub, club or party
- Buy your own drinks. Be wary of accepting drinks from strangers or people you don't know very well, even if they seem really genuine.
- Avoid sharing drinks.
- Watch your drink being poured, or the bottle/can being opened at the bar.
- Keep an eye on your drink and your friends' drinks at all times – when dancing, going to the toilet or talking to other people. If your drink looks cloudy, or changes in colour/consistency, or doesn't taste right, don't drink it.
- Keep any suspicious drinks for evidence and tell the bar manager.
- If you start to feel drowsy or suddenly 'out-of-it' don't just hope it will pass – have a friend or someone you trust take you to a safe place.
Watch your friends
- Keep an eye on your friends.
- If a friend is drunk, feeling sick, uncoordinated, confused or faint, stay with them. Don't leave them alone.
- Take them to a safe place and tell someone else if you are worried (such as your other friends, the bar or security staff).
- If someone collapses and is unconscious call 111 immediately and ask for an ambulance.
- Keep in contact with your friends throughout the evening - a growing range of phones, apps and other technologies offer an easy means to keep in touch with the group.
Getting home at the end of the night
- It could be unsafe to go home alone or with someone you have only just met. Ask a party host to let you stay over.
- Let your friends know you are leaving so they don't worry if they can't find you.
- Keep to main streets and well-lit areas.
- Don't get in a taxi if you are uneasy about the driver. Sit in the back seat.
- Ask the bus driver to drop you near your house.
- Don't walk by yourself – walk with a friend or in a group.
What if you suspect an alcohol or drug-assisted sexual assault?
Call Police, we can help you. In any emergency ring 111.
- Don't shower or wash – this will help to preserve any evidence.
- Go to a doctor or the emergency department at the local hospital.
- Take a urine test within 24 hours, as this could prove you were drugged.
Normal reactions to a sexual assault include fear, shame, anger, frustration, panic, guilt, despair and embarrassment.
Remember you are not to blame – the perpetrator is always 100 percent responsible. Rape and sexual assault are crimes.
Where to get help
- New Zealand Police – there are police officers specially trained to work with sexual assault situations.
- Local hospital emergency centre – staff are used to dealing with all types of physical assault.
- Rape Prevention Education provides information for those affected by sexual violence. It also provides education and promotion/prevention activities.
Visit the Rape Prevention Education website.
- The Alcohol Drug Helpline can answer questions you have about the use of alcohol and other drugs. It can also provide interventions and tools to help you change.
Visit the Alcohol Drug Helpline website.
- The Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation offers a range of help, including a phone HELPline.
Visit the Sexual Abuse HELP website.
Remember that your friends and family are also there to help you.
In any emergency call 111.