April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Whether at a bar, at a party, or even at a “friend’s” home – drug-facilitated sexual assault can happen to anyone at any time. For this reason, it’s important that the young people in your life understand the danger and are aware of the facts to protect themselves from becoming victims.
What Drugs are Most Often Used for Drug-facilitated Sexual Assault?
Although there are many substances that can cause you to pass out or lose control, certain drugs are referred to as “sexual assault” (or "date-rape") drugs because sexual predators often use them to get control over their victims. These drugs include gamma hydroxybutric acid (GHB), Rohypnol, ketamine, and Ecstasy. Drinking a beverage spiked with one or more of these drugs can take away a person’s ability to fight back and memory.
A person who sexually assaults another person uses these drugs because they’re easy to slip into a drink. They’re tasteless, odorless, and colorless. Also, these drugs act fast and leave your system quickly, so if the assault isn’t reported right away, it may be too late to test for the drugs. And the drugs aren’t part of a routine screening, so unless the doctor knows to test for these specific drugs, they won’t show up in the results. All of this makes it difficult to conduct a criminal investigation.
Because these drugs can affect a victims' memory, they may not remember the details or even be able to identify the person who assaulted them. In some cases, victims don’t know what happened until much later.
What Should Your Teen Look Out For?
Before a night out, give your teen the following tips to ensure they have a fun and safe time:
- Don’t drink from a can or bottle that you didn’t open yourself
- Don’t take a drink from a punch bowl
- Don’t drink from a container that’s being passed around
- If someone offers you a drink from the bar at a club or party, don’t take it. Instead, go to the bar to order your own drink, watch it being poured, and carry the drink yourself.
- Don’t leave your drink unattended while talking, dancing, using the restroom, or making a phone call
- If you realize that your drink has been left unattended, throw it out and get a new one
- Don’t drink anything that has an unusual taste or appearance, like a salty taste or unexplained residue
- Don’t mix drugs and alcohol. Even over-the-counter drugs like cold medicine can react with alcohol and other substances in negative ways.
- Watch out for your friends and ask them to watch out for you. Have a plan to periodically check up on each other.
- If your friend appears very intoxicated, gets sick after drinking a beverage, passes out and is difficult to wake up, seems to have trouble breathing, or behaves in unusual ways, do what you need to do to make sure your friend is safe. Call 911 if necessary.