Drugs, Alcohol and Serial Rapists (Another True Tale of a Rape That Might Not Be Counted)

As we’ve reported extensively in recent weeks, the FBI uses the archaic definition of “forcible” rape in its yearly Uniform Crime Report (UCR): “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” Many police departments interpret the definition to exclude victims who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, because of the word “forcibly.” Estimates are that between 22 percent and 77 percent percent of rapes involve drugs, alcohol or incapacitated victims. Today, a Ms. reader shares her story of one such rape.

TRIGGER WARNING: Material about sexual assault.

I had been recently divorced, about eight years, and the dating scene was different from what I remembered. I met someone online. We had many online chats and even a few phone calls. We had our first meeting in a public park. The next day he came to my work to bring me lunch. The day after that we were supposed to go to dinner and a movie. When he showed up at my apartment he had a bottle of wine. He asked if we could watch a movie there instead and just talk.

I showed him where everything was in the kitchen and I went to go to the bathroom. We sat on the couch, had our drink and talked. After only that one glass of wine I felt very tipsy (which was not like me at all!). I was poured a second glass. After that, things got fuzzy.

I remember being led to my bedroom, he put the TV on loud and he started to take off my clothes. I felt like I had no strength. I knew I did not want it to go in this direction. I tried to speak and I don’t think it came out right. But all he kept doing was telling me it would be over in a little while. I started to cry, I struggled to get up, but I could not. I don’t know how long it went on, but it was both vaginal and anal … and all I did was cry and try to say stop over and over and over. I think I passed out then.

I woke up the next morning so sick, I thought it was just a hangover. I took a shower. I knew the night before went badly, and as a grown woman I knew sex had happened, but most of the details (at that time) were not there. I even tried to look up my ‘date’ online and he was not there. His profile was gone. I called him to ask what happened and he told me nothing happened and we were through.

It was a few weeks later, at a friend’s house, that memories came flooding back. I had a breakdown. My friend told me most likely I was drugged. As I started asking around, most people told me the same thing … there was no use reporting it … date rape was hard to prove, especially weeks later. I didn’t know any better and I tried to move on. I’ve even moved to another state … but its been a very tough thing knowing he is still out there, probably hurting other women as well.

This woman’s devastating story is not unfamiliar. And considering the fact that 90 percent to 95 percent of rapes are committed by serial rapists, law enforcement can’t afford to discount rapes involving drugs or alcohol because of the word “forcibly.” Chances are, the offender will rape again.

You can sign the petition below to urge the FBI to change its 82-year-old “forcible” rape definition so that all rapes are counted:

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To share your story, anonymously if you prefer, you can submit it here. Stories of rapes that don’t fit the “forcible rape” definition, as well as ones that do, are welcome.

Image from Flickr user juliejordanscott, under Creative Commons 2.0.


  1. You can’t catch all the serial rapists in the world. The FBI’s definition may very well be outdated but changing the FBI’s definition of rape won’t prevent people from getting raped. Signing petitions won’t prevent people from getting raped. It’s up to women to empower themselves. Rapists prey on the weak- women with low self-esteem and women with a history of alcohol and substance abuse are at the top of their list. Don’t be a potential victim.

    If you’re a survivor. Signing petitions won’t heal your wounds. Get therapy. People who are raped are often victimized again and again. There’s a reason for that. Find out why.

    • Jamie Riehl says:

      Rapist pray on victims old, young, rich, poor, weak, strong, intoxicated, sober, empowered. The reason women are victims of rape is not a lack of empowerment. The reason women are victims of rape is because of rapists.

      Changing the politics of rape and the way it is viewed by law enforcement can and has make a difference. The incarceration rate remains appaling. But in many areas of the country, victims and their advocates have found law enforcement willing to work with them and support them in a way that was unheard of a few decades ago. Training on how to effectively and compassionately take reports from rape victims is increasingly standard for police officers, and laws protecting victims in court are increasingly widespread. Rape within marriage and alcohol facilitated rape are now recognized as crimes in all 50s states, this wasn’t true 10 years ago. So political advocacy can and has made a difference. We have a long way to go.

      The reason it is important to fix the definition in the UCR is that the information in it is used by law enforcement and politicians to assign resources. Because rape is so dramatically undercounted, at all levels of government rape prevention programs are underfunded or non-existant. For example, there is no systematic national attempt to provide anti-rape bystander and safespace training for men in high school and college.

      • Rapists prey on the weak. That is a fact. 90% of date rapes involve alcohol or substance abuse. What does that tell you? It takes two to tango. Drinking until you are unconscious is not an excuse, it’s a serious serious problem.

        Rapists have their own issues. But they are the kind of issues that require years of therapy, not a rape prevention course. Do some research. I think you will find that alcohol abuse is a common thread between predators and victims. Alcohol abuse is always a red flag that there are deeper psychological issues at play.

        It’s time women took responsibility for their own well-being. Instead of naively thinking that we can lock up all the bad guys or that somehow we can re-train rapists. I would rather see my tax dollars being used to raise awareness for alcohol abuse. Preventing rape means getting to the root of the problem.

        • Holy victim-blaming. Your words are false and judgmental.

        • Chandra says:

          This woman was DRUGGED! Two glasses of wine is NOT a drinking problem. The only way to get rid of rapists is to execute them, no more repeat offenders.

        • Excuse me, but you are so far out of line and so wrong it’s unbelievable. I was raped. I was 13 years old and there was no alcohol or drugs involved. He held me down, while I fought like hell. He was an adult and he outweighed me by a couple hundred pounds easily. How on earth do you justify that as you seem to justify other rapes by saying that women need to be empowered and take responsibility. Would you really say that to a child? What was I supposed to do as a young child to stop a fully grown man raping me? How does your ignorant comment of, “it takes two to tango” even apply here? The root of the problem is the rapists, NOT alcohol abuse or some other nonsense. Shame on you for your ignorance.

        • You seem to be treating it as a problem with individual men, like being a rapist is some kind of mental illness or something… Men rape because we live in a culture that says it’s ok, and because they know they can get away with it. All the individual female empowerment in the world won’t get rid of rape without chainging the way it’s viewed by culture.

          • Chris,

            It is a problem with individual men. Not all men are rapist. Men don’t rape because it is acceptable. It is about power and control and it is an individuals choice between what is right and what is wrong. It is not a cultural choice to rape. It is against the law!

            We do need to change how rape is viewed. Perhaps you would not be so lax on the acceptance of rape if you have experienced it!

        • Rape is never the victim’s fault! It has absolutely nothing to do with whether a complainant is intoxicated, and absolutely everything to do with the rapist. As a woman who was raped I am completely appalled by your outrageous and extremely offensive comments!

        • Jenna,

          Sexual assault crosses all barriers, including age, race, religion, sexual orientation, economic status, and geographic location and whether or not you are intoxicated. Even the educated and empowered woman in this world. That means Jenna,that you, your mom, sister, aunt, friend, brother, father, uncle and everyone else that you love in this world could be raped. Every 2 minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the US.

          Anything that can be done to prevent, stop, educate, raise awareness, and updating our justice system should be done. Rape is rape. It changes and can destroy a life forever and I pray that you never have to experience the trauma of sexual assault.

          AND…you are correct my wounds will not be healed by signing a petition, BUT if it can help someone else in any way to not have to experience sexual assault then I will keep signing and every time I sign I DO get just a little piece of me back!

        • Jenna,

          Did you even read the article? “Estimates are that between 22 percent and 77 percent of rapes involve drugs, alcohol or incapacitated victims.” Where did you pull 90 percent from?

        • This is ridiculous. She was drugged, she didn’t drink until she was unconscious. Read the story again.

          “It’s time women took responsibility for their own well-being.”

          We are. Hence the petition at the bottom of this post.

  2. Kissing Up says:

    Sexual violence is a harsh reality of dating life. And drugs and alcohol increase risk.


  3. I was date raped. I was drugged, and raped all night long. By a member of law enforcement. I felt safe with him. I trusted him. I woke up to horrificness, felt drunk, stumbled out the door & crashed my car. I hope serial rapists get what they deserve. I know I wasn’t the first…and I’m sure I wouldn’t have been the last. I have 2 babies, I’m barely functioning & having a hard time coping.

  4. Jenna,

    Your attitude is absolutely unbelievable to me!! It is that attitude that facilitate juries letting rapist go free, and rape hard to prosecute. Statistics say that around 80% or more of rapist are known by the victim. They develope trust in the victim. I was raped by someone I had known for over two years and he had never made any other move than to attempt to rub my feet and I declined. Drugs were involved but it wasn’t my voluntary use of them, and I certainly don’t abuse alcohol and the article was not about alcohol abuse either. Just because someone has a couple of drinks does not invite a rapist to rape nor does it in ANY way make it the victims fault or should it allow a rapist to go free. Rapist who use any substance to facilitate rape are cowards and know that under any other circumstance that woman is in fact TOO strong for them to get away with it! Thankfully laws are moving in the right direction. It seems to me that the public’s ignorance is what is lagging behind!! Hopefully you don’t have to learn the hard way that you are wrong about the “type” of woman rapist target, because I think you would have a very difficult time healing with your preconceived notions!!! Rapist rape because they seek to humiliate and overpower, the stronger woman the better!!

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