Date rape still a hidden scourge

Megan Mann

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Illustration by Darian Maroney

When I first came to Chico State, my mother gave me a very stern warning:

“Don’t ever drink anything that you didn’t pour and watch your drink. If you don’t pay attention, someone could drug, rape and murder you.”

Like many other students who receive this warning from their parents, I just shrugged it off.

In today’s world, when I hear that a college student was raped, I don’t think of them being drugged or date raped.

That’s because date rape is one of the least reported crimes in the U.S.

In reality, one in four women will be date raped during their time in college.

To put that into perspective, Chico State has a little less than 17,000 students.

That means that around 4,250 women at Chico State are predicted to be victims of date rape during their time here.

About 87 percent of them will know their attackers, and 55 percent of female victims of acquaintance date rape report being under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crime.

But what are date rape drugs?

Surprisingly, many students encounter the number one date rape drug every Friday night.

Alcohol is the most commonly used drug to entrap rape victims since it’s easy to obtain and is seemingly harmless to the person drinking it.

Following alcohol are more “traditional” date rape drugs like gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), Rohypnol (roofies) and ketamine.

GHB is an odorless and colorless liquid anesthetic. It’s legal in the United States as a treatment for the sleep disorder narcolepsy as of 2002, but can be put in a person’s drink to induce drowsiness, dizziness and confusion.

When combined with alcohol, GHB can be fatal as both substances are depressants and too much of them together can lead to an overdose.

However, GHB can be fatal on its own as seen in a case from 2000 when three teens were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after a girl they were trying to rape died of a GHB overdose.

Rohypnol is another popular date rape drug. Like GHB, it’s also a sedative that can be slipped into a drink, causing the person to have little to no memory of the night.

Rohypnol is now illegal in the United States, but is still used as a sedative in other countries. Today, the pill has been altered to leave floating blue particles behind after it’s been dissolved in liquid.

Finally, ketamine is an injectable veterinary anesthetic that causes amnesia, delirium and respiratory problems. This white powder or clear liquid is fatal in high doses.

Essentially, date rape drugs are either completely invisible or easily overlooked by the victim, which is what makes this type of rape the scariest type.

I don’t know about anyone else, but the sheer thought of drinking something a friend handed to me and then waking up the next morning with no recollection of the night before is frightening.

And it’s even more frightening to think that people who commit date rape normally get away with the act since this crime so frequently goes unreported.

So what can we do about this horrendous crime? What will it take for women and men to be comfortable when they go out and not have to be so vigilant about what they’re consuming?

Well, for starters, there needs to be better ways to detect classic date rape drugs.

While Rohypnol has been modified by companies to leave trace evidence in a spiked drink, GHB and ketamine have not.

Unfortunately, even if the drugs have been modified, people will have to still watch their drinks to make sure nothing is floating in them, but at least it’s a start.

But the biggest thing that everyone can do to help end date rape is to report the crimes when they happen.

I understand that it’s a terrible situation, and that victims are probably feeling like they can’t come forward.

Please understand that it is not anyone’s fault but the perpetrators that this crime happened, and unless the crime is reported, they will only move on to another victim because they know they can get away with it.

Until people begin coming forward to report these crimes and date rape drugs are modified to be more easily detected, the only thing we can do is watch our drinks and hope for the best in this endless game of Russian roulette.

Megan Mann can be reached at [email protected] or @meganisthemann on Twitter.

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