Chapter 3 - Situations Subchapter: Consent, alcohol & drugs

Stepping in and providing support

Navigating intimate relationships can be difficult enough when sober, but when you add in the influence of alcohol and drugs, situations can quickly become confusing, even out of control.

While there are laws that clearly define consent - what it is and how you can be certain it has been gained and given – any situation that involves emotions and alcohol or drugs has the potential for unintended consequences, possibly with a lasting negative impact.

Being able to offer respect, empathy and support can make a real difference to someone when it happens.


Two concerned characters put their arms around an intoxicated character.


Helping others when they can’t help themselves


Drunk people make poor choices and say and do reckless things. Someone who is drunk or affected by drugs is not themselves. Their inner worlds are muddled, their bodies unbalanced and uncoordinated, and they might be careless when responding to external influences.

Much of the time we socialise in friendship groups. If you see a drunk friend at risk, check in with them, make sure they are ok. Support the person the way you would hope to be cared for if it was you, with respect and empathy.



Sometimes a person will deliberately set out to get another person drunk or wasted.

Alcohol can be used as a weapon to deliberately get another person drunk and less able to make the decisions they might make when sober.

A person who uses alcohol as a weapon to deliberately get someone drunk has no respect for the other person’s inner world. They are counting on the person becoming drunk and unable to resist their targeted abuse.

Find a safe way to step in and stop this abuse. Enlist help, distract the abuser, report the abuser.

Most importantly, make sure the drunk person does not leave the room with the abuser.




Victim blaming occurs when a victim of a crime or wrongful incident is held responsible, either partially or fully, for what happened to them.

In the case of non-consensual sex with a person who is affected by alcohol or drugs, the victim can be blamed for encouraging the act or not preventing the act, or for behaving in any sort of way that might have suggested the act was wanted.


1 in 8 Australians believe that that if a woman is raped while she is drunk or affected by drugs, she’s at least partly responsible.

2017 National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey (NCAS)


Rape is a crime. If a person is drunk or affected by drugs, then they are unable to consent. That’s the law.

Anything that happened before the crime was committed is not relevant.

A crime was committed because a person made the decision to engage in non-consensual sex with another person. The responsibility for the decision to commit a crime rests solely with the perpetrator.


What can you do?

Respect the feelings of the victim. Try and put yourself in their shoes. Offer support or step-in if you become aware of a person being blamed for a decision that was not agreed to.

Most of the time a crime is committed by one person against another person, but it can have broader knock-on effects to friendship groups, families, peers, colleagues and communities, small and large.

When something bad happens, everyone deserves some form of support.

The victim deserves support, not blame.