It won’t happen to you. You are smart and careful. You would know if someone put something in your drink, and besides, why would anyone want to hurt or take advantage of you?
Stepping into the world of college, the first thing you want to do is break free from your parents and let loose. Well, this newfound freedom comes with a price: Exposure to some things you don’t want to be around. These situations can range from the mildly annoying to the life-threatening, including some of the scariest of all—bad sexual situations. These can include getting drugged, contracting sexually transmitted diseases, getting pregnant, or even raped.
In a utopian society, women wouldn’t have to worry about walking home at night or going on a date with a guy she just met. The fact is, women must always be on their guard.
Rape isn’t always an attacker out of the shadows or a break-in at your home. You could be on a date with a creep who won’t take no for an answer. You could be dosed at a party when you set your drink down to go to the restroom.
Two frightening facts: Most rapes happen to women ages 15 to 24. Most victims know their rapist as a friend or acquaintance.
Sexual assault is serious and scary, but there are ways to steer clear of bad situations.
“Date-rape drugs” are inconspicuous pills with no color, no smell and no taste that can be easily added to an unattended drink. These drugs can render a person physically helpless—unconscious, suffering from seizures, nausea or vomiting—and thus unable to fight rape. In some cases, death can result from overdoses.
Rohypnol, sometimes known as roofies or the Forget- Me-Pill, is one of the most common rape drugs. The drug is not legal in North America. Pills can be crushed and added to any drink—alcoholic, non-alcoholic and even water. Effects can start in as little as 20 minutes after ingestion. Without alcohol, the drug can last from eight-12 hours. In combination with alcohol, effects can last up to 36 hours. Traces of the substance can be found in the bloodstream for up to 24 hours and in urine for 48 hours.
GHB, Easy Lay, Clear X or Get-Her-To-Bed is an odorless, colorless liquid that affects the nervous system. This liquid is illegal in America but is made with common household products. GHB takes effect 10-15 minutes after ingestion and lasts from three to six hours without alcohol and up to 72 hours with alcohol. A high dose of GHB can cause a coma within five minutes.
Ketamine, special K, vitamin K or Make-Her-Mine is a legal drug used by veterinarians as a sedative or anesthetic. It comes in powder form and can be taken intravenously, orally or nasally. A person can feel the effects within 10-20 minutes—instantaneously if the drug is shot up. It usually lasts less than three hours but can be detected in a drug test within 48 hours of ingestion. This is the least common date-rape drug.
Ingestion of any of these drugs can cause hangover-like symptoms, hallucinations and fleeting memories, feelings of nausea or vomiting, and amnesia.
For more detailed information on these drugs, visit www.4woman.gov.
There are ways to avoid being slipped a date-rape drug. You don’t have to lock yourself in your room and never come out in fear of being slipped a roofie. When you are at a party, an all-ages show or just hanging with friends, you should always be alert.
“The best way to prevent rape is to be careful of your surroundings, be aware of your surroundings, and know who you are with,” Judy, a receptionist at the Student Health Center on campus said.
If you are at a public place, make sure you only order your drinks from the server or bartender and watch as they pour your drink or open your bottle. Don’t let someone else, even a friend, get your drink. Once it is in your hands, don’t let go. Don’t leave your drink unattended while you use the restroom or dance, and don’t leave your drink with anyone else. Keep it with you at all times or throw it out. It’s also possible to bring a sober, trusted friend along to make sure no one is tampering with your drink.
UNR assistant police chief Todd Renwick reiterates that the best way to prevent getting drugged is to be aware of your surroundings, don’t take drinks from strangers and never leave your drink unattended.
There is a test kit available by Drink Safe Technology to be doubly sure. The tests come in strips or as drink coasters, which change color when in contact with a date-rape drug. For more information on where to get one and how they work, go to www.drinksafe.com.
Rape prevention may seem like common sense, but rape may be the last thing on your mind when you are having a good time. Some simple do’s and don’ts to help avoid rape: Don’t walk home alone at night; do go on group dates; do stay in open or populated areas; do carry mace or pepper spray, and do know how to use it.
If the worst happens
If you think you have been raped or drugged, it is “imperative that a girl immediately goes to the hospital,” Officer Renwick said. “The hospital will contact the police, and the girl can be tested for rape or drugs and be treated.”
Most date rape drugs will leave your system within 72 hours of ingestion, and after that, it will be impossible to know if the substance was present. Still, many students report being raped or being drugged, but most test negative for any illegal substances.
“The number of date rape drugs reported is increasing,” Renwick said. “This is probably because the public is more aware and assumes that they are getting drugged, when in reality they just drank too much.”
When a report is made for a rape or drugging, UNR police will open an investigation and try to find the source of the drugs and the alleged sexual predator.
If you have been raped, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy are major concerns. Most STDs can be treated within 24 hours of unprotected sex. There are pamphlets in the Student Health Center on the common STDs, and students can be tested at the health center as well.
“All students’ [reports] are held in the highest confidentiality,” Judy said. “No one knows anything about the patients.”
To prevent pregnancy, the “morning-after pill,” available at the UNR health center or Planned Parenthood, 455 West Fifth St., is effective if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse.
The most important things are to see a doctor and report the assault to the police. Victims can’t get help by keeping the attack secret. It is more important to get help than to worry about what others will think or say.
University of Nevada, Reno police: 784-4013
UNR Health Center: 784-6598
Planned Parenthood: 688-5555
Sexual Assault Helpline: 784-8090
STD Info Hotline: (800) 772-2437
National Women’s Health Info Center: (800) 994-9662
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network: (800) 656-4673