When learning about date rape, it’s easy to shrug off the facts and act like it won’t happen to you. The truth is, it can happen to anyone. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself about the social and root causes of this violent crime.
April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month. To help raise awareness for this observance, we are providing you with educational information about date rape and prevention. At Women’s Care Florida, we believe that knowledge is power. Knowing the causes of date rape can potentially help you or a friend avoid being a victim of this violent crime.
Defining date rape
Rape is defined as any non-consensual contact or sexual activity that a person does not agree to. Date rape is when you are sexually assaulted by someone you know, like a boyfriend, or someone you recently met, even an acquaintance.
“Date rape drugs” are substances that cause impairment or loss of consciousness, thereby facilitating the assault. The drugs are sometimes slipped into your drink when you aren’t paying attention. This commonly happens in places that serve alcohol and at parties. These substances can either make you physically weak or render you unconscious so a person can take advantage of you sexually.
Remember, even if you were drinking alcohol, rape is not your fault.
Learning about common date rape drugs
In most cases, date rape drugs have no distinctive scents, tastes, or colors, which makes it difficult to know if you’ve taken any. Additionally, these drugs can make it difficult or impossible for you to remember what happened to you after the crime was committed.
The three most common date rape drugs are Rohypnol, GHB, and ketamine.
Rohypnol, also known as roofies, is a benzodiazepine prescription pill that is not approved for medical use in the United States. The effects of roofies are felt within 30 minutes of taking the drug and can last for up to several hours. The drug causes you to feel sleepy, weak, confused, and forgetful and renders you unable to move your body.
GHB (gamma hydroxybutyric acid) is also known as cherry meth or goop and is prescribed for a sleep disorder called narcolepsy. GHB goes into effect within 15 to 30 minutes and can affect you for up to six hours. The side effects of GHB are vomiting, slowed heart rate, and difficulty with breathing, and the drug can lead to coma or death when consumed in high doses.
Ketamine, also known as cat valium, is an anesthetic that reduces pain and overall feeling, produces feelings of detachment and distorts perceptions of sight and sound. The effects of ketamine often last for between 30 and 60 minutes and causes symptoms such as nausea, increased blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and hallucinations.
Avoiding date rape drugs
Date rape drugs are typically added to drinks in social settings. Here are some tips you can follow to avoid getting drugged, and lower your risk for date rape.
- Confirm that your drink is being served directly by the bartender or server. Don’t allow people you don’t know or trust to order drinks and deliver them to you.
- Watch your drink at all times. Never leave your drink unattended.
- Keep your hand covered over your drink when you’re not looking at it.
- Take your drink with you to the restroom.
- Get help immediately if you start feeling dizzy, nauseated, light-headed, or strange in any other way.
- Stick with your friends, and create a buddy system to prevent getting separated from the group for an extended period of time.
If you’ve been a victim of sexual assault or date rape, or you wake up without remembering a certain period of time, seek medical help immediately. Call emergency services at 911, or have a friend take you to the nearest emergency room.