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Rape is a crime of power and control. It is one of the worst crimes that can be committed, and yet, surprisingly enough, the criminal element in our society has found a way to make it even worse.
GHB, Rohypnol, Ketamine and MDMA (Ecstasy) are all drugs that have been identified by the FBI as being use in drug facilitated sexual assaults. These are not the only drugs used to facilitated sexual assault. Many over the counter drugs and some prescription sleep aids are being used as well. The FBI, to date, has identified over 52 drugs used to facilitate sexual assault.
These drugs can mentally and physically paralyze an individual; these effects are intensified when the drug is combined with alcohol, making them desirable drugs for predators to use as an aid in committing rape. Without the ability to recall the sexual assault or rape, a victim of these drug-facilitated assaults is hindered to assist law enforcement officials in providing information to assist in the prosecution or even apprehension of the rapist.
The FBI, to date, has identified over 52 drugs used to facilitate sexual assault. What follows is an explanation of some of the more popular drugs used in sexual assaults. Though these drugs can be slipped into a drink they are also used recreationally. If you believe that you were assaulted and/or drugged, please go to the hospital for help.
Alcohol alone is the number one predatory drug.
- In a college survey of 176 college women, 37% reported at least one drug or alcohol related sexual assault experience.
- (Marx,B.P., Nichols-Anderson, C., Messman-Moore, T., Miranda, R., Porter, C (2000). “Alcohol consumption outcomes expectations and victimizations status among female college students” Journal of applied psychology, Vol. 30, No. 5, 1056-1070)
- In 1999, Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault cases increased to nearly 23% of all sexual assault cases. 97% of the victims were female. A comparison of DFSA cases versus non-DFSA cases showed that the median time from assault to examination for DFSA was 18 hours (compared to 10 hours for non-DFSA cases). DFSA victims had police involvement in their cases 48% of the time compared to 66% for non-DFSA victims. (McGregor, M.J.; Lipowska, M.; Shah, S., et al. (2003) “An exploratory analysis of suspected drug facilitated sexual assault seen in a hospital emergency dept.” Women & Health Vol 37, No. 3, 71-80.)
- In 2000, there were 261,000 victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault. (2000 National Crime Victimization Survey, Bureau of Justice Statistics.)
- One out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
- (Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey, National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease control and Prevention, 1998)
- Approximately 62% of female rape victims knew their assailant. (2000 NCVS)
- Approximately 43% of victims are raped by a friend or acquaintance; 34% by a stranger; 17% by an intimate; and 2% by another relative. (2000 NCVS)
- 72% of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to police. (1999 NCVS)
- Alcohol is the most commonly used “predatory drug”
- In a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) 2002 report on college drinking estimates that more than 70,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 survive alcohol-related sexual assault or rape each year.
- Alcohol dulls the senses, inhibits clear thinking, distorts judgment, can cause blackouts, can cause loss of control physically and consciously, and can increase tendency towards violence or aggressiveness.
Please, if you chose to drink use the buddy system. Be with friends that you can count on to watch out for you.
GHB is a naturally occurring substance found within our bodies, but is also easily manufactured by simple chemicals that can be purchased at the local hardware store. Recipes and kits for manufacturing GHB are available over the Internet. GHB was originally sold in the states in health food stores as a performance-enhancing additive in bodybuilding formulas until the FDA banned it in 1990. It is produced now in the states in clandestine laboratories with no guarantee of quality or purity making its effects less predictable and more difficult to diagnose.
It is basically a mixture of degreasing solvent or floor stripper and drain cleaner. In the year 2000, the DEA, along with state and local law enforcement agencies, seized 17 GHB laboratories in the United States, 10 of which were located in California. GHB is usually taken orally. It can be produced either as a powder or liquid and has no odor or color and the effects include rapid intoxication, blurred vision, depressed breathing, total lack of recall, 8-12 hour complete blackout, confusion, sexually oriented behavior, loss of coordination, and loss of gag reflex just to name a few.
It is difficult to estimate the incidence of drug-facilitated sexual assault involving GHB, as the drug is only detectable in a person’s system for a limited period of time. It is almost completely oxidized to carbon dioxide and is usually only detectable in the first urine after the assault. The oxidization of the drug also increases the risk of death in an individual, as increased levels of CO2 in the blood stream will kill a person.
Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam) is manufactured and distributed by Hoffman-La Roche. Rohypnol is a pill used to aid in sleep. It falls under the same category as Librium, Xanax and Valium-it is about 10 times the strength of Valium.
Rohypnol has never been approved for use in the United States for medical use; however, it is legally prescribed in over 50 countries, including Mexico, and is smuggled into the US through the mail and across the border. This drug has taken on a nickname of the “forget me pill” specifically because of the amnesia experienced by the victim. Rohypnol is odorless, tasteless and dissolves completely into carbonated beverages. Because of the onset of this drug being used in sexual assaults, the manufacturer has reformulated the pills to turn blue in a drink to increase visibility. However, in the United States, Rohypnol in the white pill form is still available as well as their generic. In response to the reformulated blue tablets, predators are now serving blue tropical drinks and punches in which the blue dye can be disguised.
Ketamine is the only one of the three drugs in this bill that has been approved for marketing in the U.S., primarily used in veterinary medicine. It is a psychedelic anesthetic classified medically as a dissociative anesthetic. It was originally used on the battlefields of Vietnam, and today is used for medical use in both animals and humans. In order to obtain Ketamine, it must be smuggled from Mexico or stolen from a veterinarian or pharmacy. It has a similar effect to PCP, with excitement and visual disturbances that can recur days and up to weeks after ingestion. Ketamine can cause cessation of breathing, cardiac arrest, brain damage and death. Again, it is used by rapists because of the amnesia effect experienced by the victim.
MDMAÂ – Ecstasy
MDMA is a federal Schedule I drug because it has no approved medical use. MDMA causes a euphoric effect, which can last up to 12-hours, characterized by increased activity, mood swings and altered perception. The effects of MDMA include a generalized feeling of peace and happiness, emotional closeness to others, sensory enhancement – touch, vision, taste, smell, etc., increase in sexual behavior, confusion, anxiety, panic attacks, disorientation, delusions, lapses in memory, liver damage, kidney failure, convulsions, coma, stroke, paranoia, and suicide. A 1998 Johns Hopkins University study found that MDMA causes permanent brain damage. Using MDMA may result in death; however, permanent brain damage is more prevalent amongst users. MDMA abuse is very widespread. It is most commonly found at Rave parties, on college campuses and in the “club” scene. MDMA is usually taken in pill form, but is also available in powder form. As stated earlier, MDMA is lethal. It is used by rapists because of the amnesia affect experienced by the victim. It can be detected in the body up to 48 hours.
A few things to consider in reducing your risk of drug facilitated sexual assault
- Don’t leave beverages unattended.
- Don’t accept drinks, including soda and water, from someone who you don’t know well and trust.
- When at a bar or club, only accept drinks from the bartender or waitperson.
- When at parties, do not accept open container drinks from anyone.
- Always go to parties and bars with friends. Perpetrators are less likely to rape someone if they know that their potential victim is with a group of people who are watching out for her. Make sure that everyone who came together leaves together.
Help is available
If you think that you have been drugged and/or assaulted:
- Get to a safe place and call 911. It is important to remember that as a sexual assault victim your body and clothing is evidence. Do not shower, douche, brush your teeth, change your clothes or urinate (for some drugs it is possible to detect them only in the first urine after ingestion).
- Ask a trusted friend to stay with you until help arrives.
- If you do not want to call the police you can contact your local rape crisis center for information and referrals. Your call is confidential.
- To locate the center closest to you please call the 24-hour National Rape Crisis Hotline operated thought the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at 1-800-656-HOPE. You may also visit their website at www.rainn.org.
For more information on predatory drugs; we suggest the following websites:
The National Institute on Drug Abuse
Because of the continued increase in drug facilitated sexual assault and the dangers faced by women and men alike, the Doris Tate Crime Victims Foundation (CA) and the Women’s Resource Center at California State University Sacramento (CA) have collaborated to provide an educational campaign called “Watch Your Drink – Watch Your Friends“. This campaign is designed to educate people on the dangers of predatory drugs and how to obtain help if someone thinks they have been drugged.