In recent years a new kind of rape threat has reared it's ugly head at parties, on campuses and in nightclubs - so called "predator" or "date rape" drugs. What exactly are date rape drugs? Technically speaking, any substance that renders you incapable of saying no or asserting yourself and your needs can be used to commit rape. This can include things like alcohol, marijuana or other street drugs, designer or club drugs like ecstasy, over-the-counter sleeping pills and antihistamines, even cold medications
Why do these drugs make effective date rape drugs? There are many factors that make these drugs desirable to sexual predators. The drugs are virtually undetectable; they are tasteless, odorless and colorless. All traces of the drugs will leave the body within 72 hours of ingestion and are not found in any routine toxicology screen or blood test - doctors and police have to be looking specifically for them and they have to look quickly! 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 appropriate decision. This makes for a very passive victim, one who is still able to play a role in what is happening but who will have no clear memory of what happened after-the-fact. 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.
So how do you know if you have fallen victim to a rape using a date rape drug? It is difficult, but not impossible. First, there are some very clear signs that sexual activity has taken place even if you have no memory of actually "doing it." (It is important to note here that if you have had sex but can not remember doing it or offering consent you have been raped under the law, whether a date rape drug has been used or not.) Signs that a sexual assault has taken place can include; soreness or bruising in the genital area, soreness or bruising in the anal area, bruising on the inner and/or outer thighs, bruising on the wrists and forearms, defensive bruising or scratching (the kind that would occur during a struggle), used condoms near you or in nearby garbage containers, and traces of semen or vaginal fluids on clothes, body or nearby furniture. Since people who have been slipped a date rape drug appear to others to be very intoxicated, an extremely reliable sign that you have been raped using a date rape drug is gossip from others about your behavior or the behavior of those around you. Aside from indications of sexual activity, other clues that a date rape drug may have been given to you include: feeling "hung-over" despite having ingested little or no alcohol, a sense of having had hallucinations or very "real" dreams, fleeting memories of feeling or acting intoxicated despite having taken no drugs or drinking no alcohol, no clear memory of events during an 8 to 24 hour period with no known reason for the memory lapse, and stories from others about how intoxicated you seemed at a time when you know you had taken no drugs, medications or alcohol. Short of being told that you have been given a date rape drug, there is no way to be sure without medical testing. If you suspect that you have been given a date rape drug you need to get to a hospital quickly and you must request that you be properly tested. The drugs can be found in your system if you act quickly. If you suspect that you have been raped using any one of these drugs go to a hospital and request a preliminary rape exam with testing for date rape drugs. This is the only way to know for sure.