Sexual assault takes many forms including attacks such as rape or attempted rape, as well as any unwanted sexual contact or threats. Usually a sexual assault occurs when someone touches any part of another person’s body in a sexual way, even through clothes, without that person’s consent. Some types of sexual acts which fall under the category of sexual assault include forced sexual intercourse (rape), sodomy (oral or anal sexual acts), child molestation, incest, fondling and attempted rape. Sexual assault in any form is often a devastating crime. Assailants can be strangers, acquaintances, friends, or family members. Assailants commit sexual assault by way of violence, threats, coercion, manipulation, pressure or tricks. Whatever the circumstances, no one asks or deserves to be sexually assaulted.

Alcohol is often a contributing factor in sexual assault — especially acquaintance sexual assault.

If we’re drinking, we may be unintentionally increasing our chances of being sexually assaulted, as alcohol dulls our senses and our judgment. A perpetrator may even buy a person drinks to make them an easier victim.

We may also be increasing our risk of committing sexual assault. Drinking makes some people less inhibited and more aggressive, and some people believe — wrongly — that they are not accountable for their actions when they’re drunk.

When we’re drinking, we may miss or ignore signals that we should stop our sexual advances.

On the other hand, we also may not pick up on “danger signals” or trust our intuition.

And a lot of people still think — wrongly — that women who are drinking are “looking for it”.

The Criminal Code of Canada states that having sex with a person who is passed out or too impaired to give voluntary consent is sexual assault. Drunkenness is not a legal defence for sexual assault.

Because alcohol impairs judgment and motor skills, it is very difficult to practise smart sex when you have been drinking, and, in fact, alcohol is a major barrier to practising smart sex. Drinking can impair judgment so that the drinker thinks “What the hell–just once won’t hurt.” But having sex without a condom just once is like bungy jumping without a bungy cord just once.

It’s advisable to avoid having sex when you’ve had a lot to drink, because even if you have the presence of mind to use a condom, you’ll be much less likely to use it correctly and therefore face a high risk of condom failure.