- Identify risks of sexual assault, including date rape, and where to go for help
Sexual assault is any type of sexual activity that a person doesn’t agree to. It can include touching that is not okay; putting something into the vagina; sexual intercourse; rape; and attempted rape. Sexual assault happens on college campuses as well as in communities. One in five women has been sexually assaulted while in college and 80 percent of female rape victims experience their first rape before the age of twenty-five. The following statistics show that sexual assaults usually aren’t random acts of violence carried out by strangers: 
- Approximately 4 out of 5 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim.
- 82 percent of sexual assaults are perpetrated by a non-stranger.
- 47 percent of rapists are a friend or an acquaintance.
- 25 percent are an intimate partner.
- 5 percent are a relative.
Date Rape Drugs
One of the great things about being in college is having the chance to meet and get to know so many new people. Protecting yourself against sexual assaults doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice exciting social opportunities. It just means being informed about risks and taking common-sense steps to protect yourself.
One very real risk on college campuses—and elsewhere—is the use of date rape drugs to assist sexual assaults. Date rape drugs are powerful and dangerous drugs that can be slipped into your drink when you are not looking. The drugs often have no color, smell, or taste, so you can’t tell if you are being drugged. The drugs can make you become weak and confused—or even pass out—so that you are unable to refuse sex or defend yourself. If you are drugged, you might not remember what happened while you were drugged. Date rape drugs are used on both women and men.
The three most common date rape drugs are Rohypnol, GHB, and Ketamine:
- Rohypnol comes as a pill that dissolves in liquids. Some are small, round, and white. Newer pills are oval and green-gray in color. When slipped into a drink, a dye in these new pills makes clear liquids turn bright blue and dark drinks turn cloudy. But this color change might be hard to see in a dark drink, like cola or dark beer, or in a dark room. Also, the pills with no dye are still available. The pills may be ground up into a powder.
- GHB has a few forms: a liquid with no odor or color, white powder, and pill. It might give your drink a slightly salty taste. Mixing it with a sweet drink, such as fruit juice, can mask the salty taste.
- Ketamine comes as a liquid and a white powder.
These drugs also are known as “club drugs” because they tend to be used at dance clubs, concerts, and “raves.” The term “date rape” is widely used to describe sexual crimes involving these drugs, but most experts prefer the term “drug-facilitated sexual assault.” These drugs are also used to help people commit other crimes, like robbery and physical 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 stranger.
Alcohol and Other Drugs
Alcohol is also a drug that’s commonly used to help commit sexual assault. Be aware of the risks you take by drinking alcohol at parties or in other social situations. When a person drinks too much alcohol,
- It’s harder to think clearly.
- It’s harder to set limits and make good choices.
- It’s harder to tell when a situation could be dangerous.
- It’s harder to say “no” to sexual advances.
- It’s harder to fight back if a sexual assault occurs.
- It’s possible to black out and to have memory loss.
The club drug “ecstasy” (MDMA) has been used to commit sexual assault. It can be slipped into someone’s drink without the person’s knowledge. Also, a person who willingly takes ecstasy is at greater risk of sexual assault. Ecstasy can make a person feel “lovey-dovey” toward others. As with alcohol, it also can lower a person’s ability to give reasoned consent. Once under the drug’s influence, a person is less able to sense danger or to resist a sexual assault.
Even if a victim of sexual assault drank alcohol or willingly took drugs, the victim is not at fault for being assaulted. You cannot “ask for it” or cause it to happen. Still, it’s important to be vigilant and take common-sense steps to avoid putting yourself at risk. Take the following steps to protect yourself from becoming 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 share drinks.
- Don’t drink from punch bowls or other common, open containers. They may already have drugs in them.
- If someone offers to get you a drink from a bar or at a party, go with the person to order your drink. Watch the drink being poured and carry it yourself.
- Don’t drink anything that tastes or smells strange. Remember, GHB sometimes tastes salty.
- Have a non-drinking friend with you to make sure nothing happens.
- If you realize you left your drink unattended, pour it out.
- If you feel drunk and haven’t drunk any alcohol—or, if you feel like the effects of drinking alcohol are stronger than usual—get help right away.
How and Where to Get Help
Take the following steps if you or someone you know has been raped, or you think you might have been drugged and raped:
- Get medical care right away. Call 911 or have a trusted friend take you to a hospital emergency room. Don’t urinate, douche, bathe, brush your teeth, wash your hands, change clothes, or eat or drink before you go. These things may give evidence of the rape. The hospital will use a “rape kit” to collect evidence.
- Call the police from the hospital. Tell the police exactly what you remember. Be honest about all your activities. Remember, nothing you did—including drinking alcohol or doing drugs—can justify rape.
- Ask the hospital to take a urine (pee) sample that can be used to test for date rape drugs. The drugs leave your system quickly. Rohypnol stays in the body for several hours and can be detected in the urine up to 72 hours after taking it. GHB leaves the body in 12 hours. Don’t urinate before going to the hospital.
- Don’t pick up or clean up where you think the assault might have occurred. There could be evidence left behind—such as on a drinking glass or bed sheets.
- Get counseling and treatment. Feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and shock are normal. A counselor can help you work through these emotions and begin the healing process. Calling a crisis center or a hotline is a good place to start. One national hotline is the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE.
- "The Offenders." RAINN | Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. Web. 11 Mar. 2016. ↵