Date-rape drugs are now more prevalent on college campuses than ever before. Date-rape, as defined by Youth Specialties, is “forced or coerced sex between: partners, dates, friends, friends of friends or general acquaintances.”

April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and ENC provided students with the opportunity to write a positive message to survivors in the Mann Student Center. Students can write encouraging notes on hearts and hang them on the bulletin board by the elevator.

ENC also outlines consent in the handbook as “clear, unambiguous, knowing, informed, and voluntary agreement between all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent is active, not passive.” The handbook also says that consent cannot be given when a party is incapacitated, voluntarily or otherwise.

The issue of consent arises because of the forceful nature of the action, but consent can also be erased when one party has had too much to drink or has been drugged, thus rendering them unable to consent.

Rohypnol, the brand name for flunitrazepam, is the most common date-rape drug on the market. It is often referred to by the nickname “roofies.” Several others that are used include ketamine, or “Special K,” GHB, or benzodiazepines.

Rohypnol is a small white pill that easily dissolves in drinks. This pill can make your drink slightly cloudy, but it is hard to see in a dark beverage. GHB comes in a powder or pill form and will make a drink taste slightly salty. Ketamine comes in either a liquid or a powder, which will cloud a drink. Benzodiazepines are typically small, dissolvable pills, like Klonopin or Xanax.

The effects of Rohypnol start within thirty minutes. Those who have been drugged will notice slower muscle movement, problems seeing, nausea, sleepiness, and loss of consciousness.
GHB acts within fifteen minutes and can cause drowsiness, dizziness, seizures, sweating, vomiting, and overdose. The effects of Ketamine are almost immediate and cause a distorted sense of perception, out of body experiences, loss of coordination, numbness, and problems breathing.

While Rohypnol is a benzodiazepine, others may be used, and symptoms of those may take longer to take effect. The most widely reported symptom of benzodiazepine drugging is feeling sleepy.

The goal of using date-rape drugs is to make a person compliant enough to have sex. Each drug relaxes muscles and creates an intoxicating effect, even if the person has not drunk any alcohol, making them easier to coerce.

Some ways to protect yourself include going out with a trustworthy friend, never accepting a drink you did not see made, never leaving a drink unattended, and never going somewhere with a stranger. However, it is important to note that this can happen anywhere, regardless of alcohol, and it can happen with familiar faces.

If you suspect you have been drugged or date-raped, immediately see a doctor. These drugs leave your system within hours. Do not change your clothes, brush your teeth, or bathe. Remember that it is never the victim’s fault and seeking care will only help.