Contributed by Rebecca Smith, M.A., L.C.P.C., C.S.A.T.
Do you ever wake up and wonder what happened the night before? It can be very scary. It’s even more alarming if you feel that someone else has drugged you and raped or sexually assaulted you. The fact that this happens at all is disturbing, but it’s definitely something college students need to be aware of. Some of it can be attributed to alcohol and drugs, so watch out for so-called “date rape drugs” when you go out to the bar or to parties. The four most common date rape drugs are alcohol, Rohypnol or “roofies”, Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate (GHB), and Ketamine. They render you incapable of saying no or asserting yourself in a situation.
Alcohol is the most used drug in date rape situations. Be aware if someone keeps bringing you drinks or keeps encouraging you to drink more. Rohypnol is a prescription sedative/depressant. It’s not approved or manufactured in North America but can be found as a street drug. Tasteless, colorless, and odorless, it can be added to any drink without detection. GHB is an odorless, colorless liquid that resembles water and is manufactured in illegal drug labs. Ketamine Hydrochloride is a legal drug sold as a veterinary sedative or hospital-grade anesthesia. It comes in a powder form but resembles slightly cloudy water when added to liquid. All these drugs can take effect within 10-20 minutes. The most common side effects are amnesia, intoxication, drowsiness, delayed reaction time, confusion and, in some cases, severe respiratory depression and coma.
- Don’t accept open drinks from others you don’t know or trust.
- Never leave your drink unattended.
- Go with a friend or a group. Stay with them and go home with them.
- Use DrinkSafe Technology. This technology comes in test strips or coasters that work like litmus paper in chemistry class. They change color when they come in contact with a date rape drug.
The drugs listed above can have the effect of erasing your memory. Some people may never be aware that something has happened to them. Here are some signs you may have been drugged:
- You feel very hung over but don’t remember drinking much at all.
- You have no clear memory of events during an 8 to 24-hour period and have no reason for the memory lapse.
- You feel soreness or have bruising in your genital area, thighs, wrists and/or arms.
- You feel like you have had sex even though you don’t remember it.
If you think you’ve been drugged and raped or sexually assaulted, then get to a safe place. Call a friend to take you to the hospital right away. Do not bathe, wash your hands, brush your teeth, change your clothes, or eat or drink before you go. At the hospital, ask to have a urine sample taken to test for those specific drugs in your system. Contact the police when you get to the hospital to report what you do remember. Get counseling or support. Remember, you are never at fault. No matter what the situation, no one deserves to be sexually assaulted or raped.
For more help, you can call the National Sexual Abuse Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE or visit the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network website. For more information on sexual violence, check out the Essentials Course on MyStudentBody.