Increasing awareness of the severity of female victimization by opportunistic drug-facilitated sexual assault: A new viewpoint

Elsevier, Forensic Science International, Volume 315, October 2020, 110460
Authors: 
Pablo Prego-Meleiro, Gemma Montalvo, Óscar Quintela-Jorge, Carmen García-Ruiz

The victimization of women by opportunistic drug-facilitated sexual assault in leisure contexts was studied in this work by applying a novel approximation. A multifocal analytical strategy based on an intersectional gender-sensitive approach was used to analyse the evidence coming from both forensic case studies and contextual studies about sexual interrelation and drug use. The process of victimization comprises social changes affecting consumption patterns and sexual interaction, intersecting in the hegemonic recreational nightlife model. However, victims experience a range of situations that make it difficult for them to self-acknowledge themselves as such. Widespread myths about the victimization process add to the social questioning faced by victims, stemming from gender-based double standards which condition the expected female behaviors regarding the use of drugs and sexual interaction. The victims usually experience amnesia, lack of injuries and emotional harm, which make difficult the self-acknowledgement as a victim of sexual assault and the reporting of the episode suffered. Consequently, it is an urgent public health need to implement a new viewpoint about the victimization of women by opportunistic drug-facilitated sexual assault in leisure contexts, able to increase awareness of the severity of this form of sexual violence. Society must recognize the existence of this problem within itself to help victims to acknowledge themselves as such, lodge a complaint and seek adequate help. The lack of this social support feeds the perpetuation of the victimization process, which exacerbates the risk of locking victims into spirals of cyclical re-victimization and favors both the underreporting as well as inadequate coping strategies. In addition to focusing on the need to increase awareness of the severity of female victimization by opportunistic drug-facilitated sexual assault in leisure contexts, other recommendations include the use of the term “take advantage”, the development of specific criminal approaches, and the in-depth knowledge of the phenomenon via victimization surveys. These steps are necessary for developing well-targeted and evidence-based preventive measures consistent-with-reality.