Research findings support the need to establish standards for DFSA care

April 09, 2017

Dr. Du Mont notes that "Rohypnol, which has garnered the most attention as a 'date rape drug', was not found in any of the samples." She points out that when it comes to sexual assault "it is critical to understand that a woman incapacitated by drugs or alcohol is not able to consent to sexual activity whether she has consumed the substances voluntarily and/or was slipped a drug."

As part of the study, biological testing was also conducted on vaginal, oral and rectal swabs from 150 cases that met the criteria for suspected DFSA. Male DNA was found in 64 cases; in 47 per cent the finding was unexpected as the client denied having had consensual vaginal/oral/anal intercourse in the week prior to being examined.

"Our advice to women who believe they may be a victim of a drug-facilitated sexual assault is to go to their local sexual assault and domestic violence treatment centre or emergency department as soon as possible," says Sheila Macdonald, co-principal investigator of the study and provincial co-ordinator, SADVTC. "We have a higher chance of identifying unexpected drugs or DNA the sooner a victim is tested."

While many women already safeguard their drinks and use caution when accepting drinks from others, the researchers stress that sexual violence is a societal issue and there is a collective responsibility to intervene whenever possible to prevent sexual assaults from occurring in the first place.