By Jane Parent
“Guys? Something’s wrong and I think I need to go to the hospital. I think I was drugged last night.”
That’s how my daughter woke up on a Monday earlier this winter. Her suitemate Carrie* came weaving into her bedroom looking freaked out, disheveled, and disoriented. Carrie had woken up nauseous, dizzy, and with a crushing headache. Her speech was slurred.
She could not remember anything about the prior evening—where she had been, how she got home. There was a boy in her bed that she did not know, and could not remember meeting. She had fainted getting out of bed. She didn’t know if she had been sexually assaulted, but there was blood in her urine. From the bathroom, she called the university clinic, which told her to go to the hospital.
My daughter and another roommate walked Carrie down to a waiting campus security car. On the way to the hospital, they tried to piece together what had happened to Carrie the previous evening.
They are all freshman at a college in Boston. Carrie and a group of friends had gone to a football party held by students from a nearby prestigious school. They had learned about the party the way college kids usually do, through a friend of a friend.
Carrie describes herself as a “typical” college student when it comes to partying. She goes out two or three times a week, and has five or six drinks when she goes out. She is pretty, blonde, outgoing, an honors student, and to my daughter, “is one of those girls who just has it all together.” She’s very petite, maybe 5’4” and 110 pounds. She remembered arriving at the party with friends, having two or three drinks, and then—nothing. Just blank. It was the huge hole in her memory that freaked Carrie out the most. She had no idea how she’d gotten home, or what had happened to her friends. Her usual confidence and swagger had completely disappeared, and she was scared.
At the hospital, the doctors did a drug screen test and a rape kit on Carrie. The drug test came back positive for a well-known date rape drug. She had not, thankfully, been sexually assaulted. The hospital staff told Carrie that the symptoms she described—difficulty with motor control, slurred speech, fainting, and blacking out—all were all consistent with having ingested a date rape drug, and that she had most likely been “roofied” at the football party.
A week or so later, Carrie was still shaken by the experience, and said it had made her reevaluate her choices. She has decided not to go out as often, and has vowed not to drink anything that hasn’t been poured right in front of her.
It was a shocking, sobering experience for my daughter and her other roommates, too. While they had all heard apocryphal stories about drinks laced with “date rape” drugs, none of them ever thought it would happen to someone she knew, on just an average night out, especially at a party with “smart, normal people.” Things like this only happened at “sketchy parties with gross people.” For my daughter, it felt like so much more of a personal violation than any other campus crime. Each has resolved to be more cautious, never to leave a friend behind at a party, and to be very careful with what they drink (which is exactly what experts recommend, by the way).
It’s alarming to hear of these things happening to our daughters, but hopefully this experience will inform their behavior and protect them going forward—and other young women, as well.
*Not her real name.
Jane Parent is a freelance writer in Northeast Ohio and frequent contributor to Your Teen.