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Sexual Assault and Rape

(continued)

Terms and Concepts in Sexual Assault continued...

If you begin sexual intimacy, you must use extra care at all times to be certain that the person to whom you are making sexual advances is of sound mind and consenting to whatever acts are taking place at all times during the contact.

Nonconsent

People who are compromised (intoxicated, below a certain age, mentally incompetent, or in an altered state of consciousness) are considered by the law to be incapable of consenting, whether they appear to be consenting or not.

If you are starting sexual contact, you must be very careful to determine if any of these compromising conditions exist. If you have even the slightest doubt about the mental state of the proposed sexual partner, you should not start sexual activity, and you should make every effort to protect the compromised person.

Intoxication and sexual assault

Intoxication is involved in many accusations of sexual assault.

Intoxication affects memory and consciousness. Lower levels of intoxication can lead to brief loss of memory for specific events. Higher levels can lead to blackouts where people appear to be awake and participating but do not remember what happened. Extreme levels can lead to complete states of unconsciousness (passing out), where the unconscious person can be taken advantage of without any participation, and the victim has no ability to resist sexual assault at all.

As a rule, when either person is intoxicated, it is best to stop intimate behavior. If one person is more intoxicated than the other, the less intoxicated person may be held responsible for any sexual behaviors that occur. Remember that any compromise of the victim will be construed as nonconsent by law enforcement regardless of the circumstances.

Involuntary intoxication or the intentional drugging of people with alcohol or other drugs, classified as "date rape drugs" (drugs that alter mental consciousness), can lead to allegations of rape by intoxication, a much more serious form of sexual assault.

Even if one person is voluntarily intoxicated, however, complications can arise in many situations. For the recipient of sexual advances, the decrease in self-restraint and a more thoughtless and carefree attitude toward intimacy can lead to sexual intimacy that is not preplanned.

Intoxicated people may also appear to give consent by appearing to enjoy what they are doing and actively participating, even though ultimately they may not remember what happened (if they are in a blackout state). When they look back on the encounter, they may feel they have been violated, although at no time did they act as if they were being violated and in fact may have been actively and enthusiastically participating. For example, a person may be consenting to the sexual activity just because he or she is intoxicated. If that person were sober, he or she might not agree to have sex. In situations like these, the intoxication level of the victim can contribute to the accusation of sexual assault.

WebMD Medical Reference

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