Which drug is most implicated when it comes to sexual assault? It’s alcohol, but so called “date-rape” or “predator” drugs also pose a danger for teenagers.
Drug-facilitated sexual assault occurs when a perpetrator uses a drug or combination of drugs to render a potential victim unconscious or semiconscious, then sexually assaults the victim. Nearly 90-percent of the time that drug is alcohol, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. But there are other date rape drugs too. They include Rohypnol, known as “roofies;” GHB, known as “Easy Lay;” and Ketamine, known as “Black Hole.” All three are available in pill, liquid, and white powder form.
“These drugs have similar properties. Drugs expedite the process at which a person loses sight of themselves, making it easier for someone to violate another,” says Jennifer Marsh, former vice president of Victim’s Services for the RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network and current Executive Director of the Alliance Against Family Violence. “If the effects set in before you seek help, they can completely immobilize you.” Victims usually feel Rohypnol within 30 minutes of intake and it can take hours to wear off.
Anyone under the influence might mistake these drugs with the effects of alcohol, which is why they are typically used to spike alcoholic drinks. They induce difficulty with motor movements, nausea, dizziness and loss of conscious. GHB, or Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid, takes effect in about 15 minutes and can last up to 4 hours. Extremely small doses can have a massive effect.
Ketamine is legal in the United States for medical purposes—it’s sometimes used to treat depression—its effects can be dire when abused. Common symptoms include drowsiness and problems seeing. Ketamine typically targets and distorts the memory and victims may have unrealistic perceptions of time and a lost sense of identify.
There are steps everyone can use to protect themselves from drug-facilitated sexual assault.
How To Protect Yourself From Sexual Assault Drugs
1. Keep your eyes on your drinks.
Pay vigilant attention to your drink at parties. If you need to use a restroom, ask a trusted friend to watch your drink. If you believe your drink was unattended, even just for a few minutes, pour it out. Keeping a napkin on your drink is also a good strategy.
2. Drink responsibly.
Limit yourself to one or two drinks in public.
3. Party with friends you trust.
Bring a reliable group of friends to parties and watch out for each other. “People underestimate the buddy system,” says Marsh.
4. If you don’t see someone make your drink, don’t drink it.
If someone offers you a drink you didn’t see them make it, dispose of it and make yourself another one.
5. If you’re worried, get help.
If you believe you’ve been drugged, get help immediately.
Finally, remember that in the majority of sexual assaults—93 percent according to the U.S. Department of Justice—the victim knows the perpetrator. If you believe you or someone you know has been assaulted, immediately report it to the police.
Victims hold no blame whatsoever for their attack, though many (more than 60 percent) never report their assault. Advocates like Marsh recommend anyone who’s been sexually molested go straight to the emergency room before bathing or showering as to not tamper with evidence.