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Rape Drugs: The Dangerous Chemical Accomplices in the Heinous Crime

by Yumna Mahmood





It’s a joy to hang out with friends. A perfect outing makes you fresh for a busy week ahead. However, health and safety should not be put at risk, whatsoever!

Many dangers await a victim to fall into the traps they set behind the light, drinks, music, and friends. One such danger to be aware of is Date Rape and Date Rape Drugs.

Date Rape is a term that refers to the non-consensual intimacy between two people. The man and the woman might know each other or it could be the opposite. However, in both cases, the victim is forced to have sex with the perpetrator and for this purpose, drugs are used to make it easy for the latter.

Date Rape Drugs, also called Rape-Facilitating Drugs, have a tranquillizing effect on the victim, making her unconscious and completely unaware of what is happening to and around her. These drugs are added to the drinks of the targeted person in the form of a tablet or powder.

Some date/rape drugs are:


Alcohol

GHB

Rohypnol

Ketamine

MDMA

Marijuana

Alcohol is more than just a relaxing drink. According to MSD Manual Professional Version, 300-400mg/dL causes unconsciousness. Drinking women are more prone to get drunk or forced to be drunk to make sexual assault easier and it’s hard for them to remember consent.

GHB-Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate, a salty powder has adverse effects on the victim such as loss of memory. Its salty taste makes it recognizable but if it is added to a drink, its taste could be masked. It is used as a liquid, powder, and pill. It is easy to manufacture and a much-preferred drug. People also call it Bedtime Scoop, G, Gamma 10, and Liquid Ecstasy.

Rohypnol-also is known as Flunitrazepam is used to make the victim feel high. Aftereffects include loss of memory of the events that occurred after the dose was given, dizziness, nausea, and black-out. Circles, R-2, Roach-2, Roopies, and trip-and-fall are some of its other names.

Ketamine- an anaesthetic drug that causes hallucinations, sedation, depression, slurred speech, numbness, loss of memory, and hypnosis. Other terms for this drug are K, Green, Kit Kat, Psychedelic heroin, and Jet. The drug comes in liquid and white powder.

MDMA- known as ecstasy is a stimulator of dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. MDMA users are recognized by fluorescent accessories, the application of mentholated ointments on lips, and trismus.

Marijuana-the second most used date rape drug after alcohol. It affects the cognitive ability of the victim such as reacting toward a threat or harm.

People who think it morally ill to drink beer or alcohol or avoid going to bars or clubs are less vulnerable to falling prey to the perpetrator. However, such people must be aware of these wicked tactics that any person can play on them.
Don’t accept drinks from any strange person in the group.
Not every person you meet is your friend. Don’t hang out or accept offers for outings from a person you met in a park or mall.

  • Avoid tasting drinks offered by someone to you in a bar.
  • Prefer well-lit rooms for parties, rather than dark smoky rooms.
  • Check your drink's colour before consuming it if you are doubtful. Smell it and sip it a little to test any change in its odour or taste, respectively. Coloured drinks could be hard to assess as compared to colourless ones.
  • Seek good companies and prefer spending lonely evenings with a good friend or a family member rather than going to bars and meeting unknown people.
  • Taking a cab or public bus is far safer than taking a lift from a person you think you have met in the neighbourhood.
  • If you drink already, keep a check on the number of drinks you take in public, and don't drink if you feel like the colour or taste or odour of this drink is too different from the one you drink.
  • Don’t carry too much cash in bars or clubs. Not only because these things are robbed but also because you may lose these things in crowded places if they get dropped.
  • Stay reserved with intriguing people and don’t express your moods to unknown companies nor stay overnight or sleep at your friend’s house unless accompanied by a person you trust.

You might guess whether you have been drug-raped by noting whether your dressing is not the way you did it, bruises on your body, or feeling drunk though you don’t drink. Complete loss of last night’s memory is also an indication that you might have drugged. Some people feel like having sex though they can’t recall what happened last night or feel hung over and drained of energy. People also pass out when they wake up after being drugged.

You should make an emergency call. If you feel terrified, at least visit a hospital and see an ED nurse or a SANE nurse as discussed below, to submit your blood and urine samples for assessments.

Make sure to seek medical help within 72 hours or 3 days but it’s important to note that 3 days is the maximum duration you can have. The earlier, the better.

Usually, urine and blood samples are sent for toxicological assessments. According to the publication by Albino Gomes, entitled, Date Rape Drugs, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-SANE nurses are more educated to deal with such cases. They examine the victim’s anal and vaginal region using their equipment namely, an anoscope and colposcope. One should prefer referring a SANE rather than an ED nurse, however, an ED nurse can also be referred for urine and blood sample collection.

Once, it’s confirmed that you have been raped, don’t keep it to yourself. Inform the authorities about this assault and show the forensic or toxicology reports as a piece of evidence. It’s obviously not to have a strong memory of that night but tell each detail you remember and all the plans you had for that night.

People who drink usually can’t assuredly claim to have been drug-raped as they drink alcohol themselves or take drugs from time to time. However, if they think they have had unwanted sexual intercourse or had been drugged without their knowledge, they should seek medical help as stated above and must report it as well before the perpetrator takes advantage of their silence and self-blaming.

A brief history of the use of date-rape drugs as extracted from the publication Drug-facilitated Rape: Looking for the Missing Pieces by Nora Fitzgerald, and K. Jack Riley is as follows:

Year

Important Event
1993

Flunitrazepam was reported among a Miami student and appeared in the ethnographic system.

1995

Community Epidemiology Working Group reported the flourishing use of Rohypnol in Florida and Texas.

1997

Use of Rohypnol had decreased in Florida and Texas according to Pulse Check.

1999

Monitoring the Future found that 0.5% of the 8th graders and 1% of the 10th and 12th graders had decreased the use of Rohypnol as compared to the year 1998.

Victims of date rape drugs have a difficult time recovering from the trauma of being raped. They feel helpless and assume themselves to be the only ones responsible for whatever happened, especially those who drink.

Lack of memory also weakens their case and they think they won’t be helped.

One such case was once published in Chicago Tribune. The victim, Empen’s story has been discussed, along with some gaps in knowledge shared by the associated authorities. Empen says that the night became a nightmare for her, she doesn’t remember more than this that she had only 2 drinks. It’s the first time she can’t recall how she ended up passed out in a bed, wearing no more than earrings and socks. The perpetrator couldn’t be traced by the detectives or the police. The only thing he left behind was a jacket.

Annette Milleville, Deputy Supervisor of the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Division at Cook’s County state attorney office says, “One of the big challenges, as with all sexual assaults, but especially with these cases, there’s a lot of underreporting.”

The article further says that the toxicological tests conducted at the hospital are not efficient enough to detect each drug that could be potentially used as a club drug. Marc LeBeau, an FBI Senior forensic scientist after studying multiple rape cases in which date rape drugs were used, concluded that the following are the reasons why such cases are hard to investigate:

1. The drugs used keep on changing

2. The victim delays reporting the cases

3. The collection of improper evidence such as blood samples instead of a urine sample

4. Improper testing equipment is used in the labs

Though it seems that the cases might be impossible to solve but they aren’t. The article in the Chicago Tribune says, “Prosecutors build cases with evidence like surveillance video, witness statement, and detailing the scene before and after the alleged assault. Video showing a person clearly unable to walk can help prove incapacitation garbled text messages can show a lack of ability to communicate.”

Investigators should not wait for the toxicological results for investigating further. Sgt. Alegra Koser says that officers should hurry to the crime scene and collect pieces of evidence such as surveillance videos, and investigate the people present around. She does it herself rather than waiting for the report from the lab.

The semen on the bedsheets, any fluid around the anus or vagina, and bruises can help in DNA extraction of the criminal. If the person is not a reported criminal, his data can be stored to match with the newly reported criminals or the people being investigated to solve a reported case.

Items of clothing such as the jacket left behind by the perpetrator in Empen’s case, can help as well for DNA sampling and tracing the wearer of those clothes by surveillance video.

By now, as a reader, you must be aware of how people get drugged and raped, the drugs people usually use, the forms in which the drugs are available, and how difficult prosecuting such cases is. Some preventive measures have also been discussed in the article to keep you from being victimised by a perpetrator.

However, people still get trapped and wake up with many questions and no memory of the past night. Such people should help themselves before seeking help from anyone else. They should;

1. Store their urine in a sealable uncontaminated or clean bag or container. Freeze or refrigerate it as well.

2. Refrain from washing or cleaning themselves before getting to the hospital to avoid washing out any evidence that might help in investigations.

3. Call the sexual assault helpline.

It’s important to know that these cases take time to be solved. However, it’s your responsibility to get your case recorded. If you remained silent, thinking that reporting your case is of no use at all, it will make the offender more confident. He would be indirectly supported by this silence. You can help by reporting such cases to the police and promoting awareness among your friends and family about drug-facilitated sexual assaults.

One must not think that only women are in danger of being drugged and raped. Men are equally susceptible to non-consensual sexual assault. According to an article available at NCBI, entitled, “Victim and Perpetrator Characteristics in Alcohol/Drug-Involved Sexual Violence Victimization in The U.S.” 26.2% of females and 30% of male victims of physically forced rape reported substance use. As for drug-facilitated rape, 29.7% of female and 32.4% of male victims reported involuntary use of a substance.

According to research published in the European Journal of Molecular and Clinical Medicine entitled Date Rape Drugs in Sexual Assault-A Threat to Indian Society, the use of drugs is prevalent in the educated ad rich urban classes. Moreover, date rape drugs are also being used in India for sexual assaults.

It is stated further in the article that the drug markets have become very prominent in Asia in the last few decades and the younger generations are observed to be more addicted. The authors explain that rave parties meant enjoying music, cannabis, and alcohol have changed and now people abuse drugs at these parties and also sell and buy them. However, the interference by police has decreased it a lot.

Be it, anyone, it’s not the fault of the victim that he/she is victimised. It’s common in many parts of the world to celebrate events with a drink or two. However, taking advantage of such events and slipping something into someone’s drink is immoral. Its greater risk lies in a public place and the government of such states keeping in view the risks of drug-facilitated rape must get police officers alert on pubs and clubs at weekends, Christmas, New Year’s night, Ester, etc. Surprising visits by the police at these public places where the probability of being victimized by a rape-drug are high can help reduce the chances of being non-consensually or consensually assaulted.

Moreover, the uninhabited houses and apartments could be a potentially safe place for such activities and these must be kept under observation to avoid them from being used for illegal activities such as non-consensual intimacy with a drugged victim.

What lies in front of us is a generation that needs to be protected from such unwanted experiences and memories in their lives or the lives of their beloved ones. It’s not only the responsibility of a researcher to present facts and figures in his/her research article but also our responsibility to forward the message to the upcoming youth.
To all those who have ever been sexually assaulted without their consent, you are still a part of this world and can help many innocent lives from passing through what you experienced, by breaking the silence and speaking up for yourself. Even getting your case reported can be of great value. It could be the first drop of rain in a dry pond.

To those who take advantage of being trusted, or ruin a man’s or a woman’s life with the most unpleasant morning and a forgotten night, this is the worst you could do with yourself. Sooner or later you would fall into the trench you dig for others.

No case in the world can't be solved. By keeping hope alive and actively integrating science and technology to solve these typical crimes, we could reach a solution. However, prevention is best. It’s good to avoid using drugs in public places or not use them altogether. It’s better to be sober rather than put yourself at risk with a drink or two.

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