Violence Prevention Week

Third week of April of each year is the provincial Prevention of Violence Against Women Week (POVAWW). 

April 17 -23, 2011

This year  we are focusing on the issue of drug facilitated sexual assault.

  • A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found 21 per cent of sexual assaults involve date-rape drugs, up from 12 per cent in 2003. The study also found the assault victims were primarily women aged 20 to 24 (36%), followed by women of 16-19 years of age (23%). (2009)
  • About 25% of women report that drugs were a factor in a rape (Sexuality and you: Your link to sexual well-being, Drug facilitated sexual assault, 2006)
  • The most frequently detected drug in victims of drug-facilitated sexual assault is alcohol. The second most common is marijuana. 

Source: Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre



Press release


Social Media Campaign

All week we will be encouraging our fans on Facebook and Twitter followers to sign up as Change Makers and encourage their friends to do the same by re-posting links and messages. 

Here is what you can post on your profile:

I’m making a pledge to take action to end violence against women and girls by choosing not to remain silent. I will speak up and be a role model to others in my everyday life by promoting gender-equality and non-violence. You can make a pledge too by visiting the link and reposting! 


Learn More

What is a drug facilitated sex assault?

The administration of any drug in order to incapacitate a victim to the point where they are no longer able to give or withhold consent in regards to any sexual activity. A sex assault is any intercourse, fondling, kissing or oral sex that one person does not agree to.

Drug facilitated sex assaults are not common. There were approximately 273 sex assaults reported to Vancouver police from January to August of 2010. Of those sex assaults, 57 per cent were reported to have taken place on a date.  Only 1 to 4 per cent reported a drug facilitated sexual assault.

Signs and Symptoms

  • sudden light headedness
  • feeling paralyzed or powerless
  • waking up confused
  • severe headaches, vomiting
  • scattered or no memory
  • intoxication with minimal alcohol
  • acting out uncontrollably
  • heightened sex drive
  • hallucinations, loss of consciousness

Types of Drugs

  • Rohypnol
  • GHB (Gamma hydroxy-butyrate)
  • Ketamine
  • MDMA (Ecstasy)
  • Foxy Methoxy
  • amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepanes
  • opiates
  • cold or heart medication
  • ALCOHOL - 50% of young adults report being sexually assaulted while under the influence of alcohol

What do you do if you think you may have been sexually assaulted?

You may feel reluctant to report your sex assault because you may have been drinking or taking drugs and you feel guilty or partly to blame. You might not remember enough details to positively identify a suspect or even say with certainty that you were sexually assaulted. Perhaps there has been a time delay.

However, if you report what has happened to you, you will get the medical help you need.  As well, police can potentially arrest the suspect and prevent it from happening to someone else.

Witnesses or your friends may be able to help investigators fill in the blanks as to what happened. They might be able to determine what you were drinking and/or consuming, who you were hanging around with or anyone who may have been paying you a lot of attention.

You are never to blame for being sexually assaulted.

Investigators will collect evidence from a variety of sources, including security videotapes, and forensic examination of clothing, condoms and any bodily fluids may also be conducted. 

Sexual Assault Indicators

  • soreness of the anal or genital area
  • marks or bruises on the skin
  • a discharge
  • waking up in different or unknown surroundings
  • clothes off, missing or rearranged

If you think you’ve been sexually assaulted:

  1. Talk to an adult you trust.
  2. Go to the hospital as soon as possible.
  3. Ask for blood and urine samples to be taken.
  4. Don’t shower.
  5. Call the police as soon as possible.
  6. Keep the clothes you were wearing.


Past history shows that suspects in drug facilitated sex assaults are often “knight-in-shining-armour” types, who act like heroes and tend to be very articulate. If this person is not known to you or your friend, don't leave with them.

Since most of these drugs are in liquids, get your own drinks and open the bottle yourself. Don't accept drinks from people you don't know and never take drinks from open bottles or punch bowls. Never leave a drink unattended and IF IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT.

  • go out with friends and stay together
  • don’t leave with a stranger, especially if you feel intoxicated or unwell
  • if you meet someone new, arrange to have coffee the next day, rather than leave with them

Advice for friends:

  • have a plan to stay together before you go
  • always go to parties and clubs as a pair or in groups
  • stay together, watch each other and your drinks
  • don’t let a friend out of eye shot with a new guy
  • leave if you or your friend feels ill or drunk for no reason
  • leave with your friend if their behaviour becomes unusual or they appear intoxicated
  • go to your local hospital if you feel ill
  • some drugs make a person become passive and it may look like your friend is leaving voluntarily with someone they just met - leaving with a person is not an agreement to have intercourse

Source: Vancouver School Board