Dal Alert!

Receive alerts from Dalhousie by text message.


Alcohol & consent

Alcohol is the most widely used date rape drug. Students often ask, "if my date/partner and I are drinking or using drugs, does that mean we cannot consent to sex?"

CONSENT is when

  • The individuals have indicated that they are interested in having sex.
  • Everybody involved is clearly capable of making an informed decision of his/her own free will.

There is NO CONSENT when

  • Your acquaintance/friend/date/partner is passed out (or asleep) or is incoherent, staggering, or not aware of his/her environment.
  • Consent/permission has been given on behalf of another person. 
  • You think you have consent because she/he is not resisting. Apparent compliance can come from fear or an inability to verbalize or fight back due to intoxication from alcohol and/or drugs. 
  • You don't think the person would agree to sex if she or he were sober. 
  • You and your acquaintance/friend/date/partner have never talked about having sex together before now - when you are completely drunk - and you don't know what the person would want. 
  • Your acquaintance/friend/date/partner has indicated (verbally or non-verbally) that he/she is not interested. 
  • Even though you and the person have had sex before, he/she said that he/she was not interested tonight. 
  • Someone has stated what he or she is comfortable with, but when she/he is drunk you go farther than she/he agreed to. 
  • You are not sure.

If you're NOT POSITIVE he/she has consented, DON'T DO IT

Safety & alcohol

  • Remember that when you consume alcohol or are around people who are consuming alcohol, you are more vulnerable to sexual assault. Alcohol and drugs slow down your ability to recognize risk or get out of a situation.
  • You have the right to change your mind and leave. Tell the person to stop, and do whatever you can to remove yourself. 
  • Don't use alcohol to do something you wouldn't do when sober. If you are looking to alcohol or drugs to give you the courage to get someone to do what you want, or what you feel is expected of you, stop. 
  • Consider that some people will deliberately get a person drunk or stoned to take advantage. Giving someone drugs or alcohol and having sex with them after they are no longer capable of resisting is assault. 
  • Don't allow anyone to pressure you into consuming more than you are comfortable. If you have said no to another drink and someone still buys you one, don't drink it.
  • Make a plan with your friends to watch out for each other. If you are all getting drunk, or if your friends are acting drunker than expected (based on what they have consumed), keep a close eye on them. 
  • Keep in mind there are risks when you accept a drink from someone or when you leave your drink unattended. Watch each other's drinks so that no one has the opportunity to put a drug into your drink. 
  • Don't leave your friends on their own. People have been sexually assaulted in both women's and men's washrooms and stairwells.  
  • If you crash at someone's home during a party, be mindful about your safety and where you are sleeping. 
  • At home, always lock your doors. Most assaults occur in a home - whether the victim's, the perpetrator's, or the home of a friend during a party.

If you think you have been assaulted:

  • If you have been using drugs or alcohol you may blame yourself, or be afraid that others will blame you.
  • It's not your fault if someone assaulted you - regardless of whether or not you were using drugs or alcohol, what you were wearing, how you were dancing, or where you went.
  • You may not remember some or all of what happened, but you know you have been assaulted. 
  • You may suspect that someone drugged you. Or perhaps you passed out and woke up and someone was there with you. 
  • You don't need to remember the details to get help, or even to press criminal charges. 
  • You don't need to decide about charges right away, but it is helpful to have the documentation if you decide to pursue that option.

If you are considering pressing criminal charges, medical documentation is critical. For emergency in-hospital response after an immediate sexual assault, you can contact SANE within 72 hours for medical care, forensic examinations and follow-up support.