Sunday 23rd July, 2006


Watch That Drink!

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By Aretha Welch

It’s been all over the Internet. Stories of local girls who have gone to popular night-clubs and ended up drugged, raped and left in their cars, club parking lots or in bathroom stalls.

These victims of acquaintance or date rape fall prey to the tricks employed by men with whom they go out.

With the party season at full speed, WomanWise takes a look at some of the things women and girls need to be aware of when having a night out on the town.

Date rape drugs

These are drugs that are sometimes used to assist a sexual assault. Sexual assault is any type of sexual activity to which a person does not consent. It can include inappropriate touching, vaginal penetration, sexual intercourse, rape, and attempted rape.

Because of the effects of these drugs, victims may be physically helpless, unable to refuse sex, and can’t remember what happened. The drugs often have no colour, smell, or taste and are easily added to flavoured drinks without the victim’s knowledge. There are at least three date rape drugs:

* GHB (gamma hydroxybutyric acid)

* Rohypnol (flunitrazepam)

* Ketamine (ketamine hydrochloride)

NB: Another popular “rave scene” drug of choice, is ecstasy is also classed as a date rape drug by some experts.

What do the drugs look like?

* GHB has a few forms: a liquid with no odour or colour, white powder, and pill.

* Rohypnol is a pill and dissolves in liquids. New pills turn blue when added to liquids. However, the old pills, with no colour, are still available.

* Ketamine is a white powder.

Why do these drugs make effective date rape drugs?

* Date rape drugs are virtually undetectable; they are tasteless, odourless and colourless.

All traces of the drugs are excreted within 72 hours of ingestion and are not found in any routine toxicology screen or blood test. Specific tests must be conducted in order to

identify the drug.

* Date rape drugs are easily slipped into drinks and food and are very fast acting. They render the victim unconscious but responsive with little or no memory of what happens while the drug is active in their system.

* The drugs also make the victim act without inhibition, often in a sexual or physically affectionate way.

* Like most drugs, date rape drugs render a person incapable of thinking clearly or of making responsible decisions.

This makes for a very passive victim. Without any memory of events, the victim is often unaware that they have even been raped, and if they are aware or have suspicions, they make very poor witnesses.

How you can protect yourself 

* Don’t accept open drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) from others who you do not know or do not trust; this includes drinks that come in glasses.

* When in bars or clubs, always get your drink directly from the bartender and do not take your eyes off the bartender or your order; don’t use the waitress or let somebody go to the bar for you.

* At parties, only accept drinks in closed containers: bottles, cans or tetra packs.

* Never leave your drink unattended or turn your back on your table.

* Do not drink from open beverage sources like punch bowls, pitchers or tubs.

* Keep your eyes and ears open; if there is talk of date rape drugs or if friends seem “too intoxicated” for what they have taken, leave the party or club immediately and don’t go back.Signs and symptoms of being drugged...

* You feel a lot more intoxicated than your usual response to the amount of alcohol you consumed. Or you feel intoxicated and you consumed only non-alcoholic beverages.

* You wake up feeling confused, experiencing memory lapse and cannot account for a period of time.

* You wake up in a hotel room or in a stranger’s apartment or home.

* You took a drink but can’t remember what happened to you after you drank it. You feel that someone had sex with you, but you can’t remember any or all of the incident.

* You have unexplainable bruises or soreness on your genital area, thighs, or wrists.

How to cope, if it happens to you...

* Tell someone you trust.

* Get medical attention as soon as possible. Get tested for STDs and do take a pregnacy test, as knowledge gives you the power to make further decisions.

* Try to collect a urine sample in a clean container during the first 24 hours after the assault. (This may be your only evidence linking the drug to the crime — as the drug will show up in your urine.)

* Don’t destroy any of the evidence by showering or washing.

* Report the incident to the police, your local rape crisis centre, or the hospital emergency department.

* Talk to a counsellor for support. Your emotional and physical health is important.

* Believe in yourself. No one invites, causes or deserves to be sexually assaulted. What happened to you is a criminal offence. Even if you were drinking, you are not to blame. Psychologists have stated that, rape is not sex, it is an act of violence, which is more about fulfilling a need for power, than anything else.

It is not your fault!

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