Elaine Ducharme Ph.D, ABPP Board Certified in Clinical Psychology
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Information on date rape

 Date Rape

School will be winding down soon. Proms, balls and house parties can be lots of fun. But they can be sources of danger for our children. And as kids think about heading off to college where they will have far less supervision than at home, parents need to provide helpful information to help their children stay safe. One of the dangers for young adults is date rape.  The term date rape is widely used. But most experts prefer the term “drug-facilitated sexual assault.” The term date rape can be misleading because the person who commits the crime might not be dating the victim. Rather, it could be an acquaintance or even a stranger.

Three Common Date Rape Drugs

Date rape drugs are sometimes used to assist in the sexual assault. They can be slipped into your drink when you are not looking. They could also be mixed into another drug such as marijuana. They can be used on both men and women but more frequently are used on women. The three most common date rape drugs are Rohypnol (often called roofies), GHB which is short for gamma hydroxubutyric acid, and Ketamine. All these drugs are frequently referred to as club drugs because they tend to be used at dance clubs, concerts etc. When taken with alcohol the effects of the drugs are enhanced and can lead to death. Although alcohol is not technically considered a date rape drug, it is harder to think clearly, set limits, make good decisions or fight back when you have had too much to drink. You may also experience a black out from too much alcohol and not recall what happened while you were drunk. Other drugs such as Ecstasy, Klonopin and even Xanax have been used to facilitate date rape.

Effects on the body

These drugs often have no color, smell or taste. So, you can’t tell if you are being drugged. Their effects, however, are fairly quick. They can make you become weak and confused or even pass out, so that you cannot defend yourself and may have no clear memory of what happened. You may feel drunk, nauseated and may not even be able to stand up. You may experience visual disturbances, sleepiness, sweating, lost sense of time or identity, low blood pressure difficulty breathing seizures and even death.

How can I tell if I have been drugged and raped?

This can be difficult because many victims have little if any memory of the assault. Often , the victim might not realize they were assaulted for 8-12 hours. These drugs often leave the body very quickly so there is often no “proof” that the victim was drugged. But there are some signs.

          You wake up feeling very hung over, disoriented and have no memory of a period of time.

         You remember having a drink but cannot recall anything after that.

         You find your clothes are torn or not on correctly.

         You find evidence of sexual activity on your body, clothes or bed, but have no memory of having sex.

How to protect yourself from being a victim 

        Don’t accept drinks from other people.  

        Open containers yourself.

        Keep your drink with you at all times…even when you go to the bathroom.

        Don’t drink from big punch bowls or open containers…they may already have drugs in them.

        Don’t drink anything that tastes salty…sometimes GHB tastes salty.

        If you have left your drink unattended, throw it out and get another one.

        If you feel drunk and have not had any alcohol, or if you feel the effects of drinking are stronger than usual, get help right away.

What to do if you think you have been drugged and raped

         Get medical help right away. Call 911 or get to an emergency room.

         Do not bathe, shower brush your teeth, wash your hands, change your clothes or eat or drink before you get to the hospital,    because these activities can destroy evidence of rape.

         Call police from the hospital and tell them everything you do remember. Nothing you did justifies rape.

         Be sure to give a urine specimen at the hospital. Rohypnol stays in the body for several hours and can be detected in the urine up to 72 hours after taking it. So try not to go to the bathroom before going to the hospital. If you must urinate, go in a jar and bring it to the hospital with you.

         Don’t clean up the area where your think the rape may have occurred. You may destroy evidence.

         Seek help from a psychologist or other mental health professional trained in sexual assault. If you don't know where to begin, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE


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