LEPHALALE – Year-end functions, Christmas parties and social gatherings are synonymous with the festive season, but it can also be a dangerous time for women, who can become the victims of date-rape incidents.
According to womenshealth.gov’s date rape fact sheet would-be rapists usually use one of three common drugs: Rohypnol, Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB) and Ketamine Hydrochloride.
Rohypnol is a prescription drug that has been effective in treating withdrawal symptoms of recovering drug addicts and is manufactured in pill form that dissolves in liquids. Newer pills are oval and green-gray in colour while the older pills are small, round and white. In an effort to warn victims that their drinks could be spiked the pills turn clear liquid bright blue and dark drinks turn cloudy. Unfortunately, the pills with no dye are still available. The effects of Rohypnol can be felt within 30 minutes of being drugged and can last for several hours.
If you are drugged, you might look and act like someone who is drunk, you might have trouble standing, your speech might be slurred or you might pass out. Rohypnol can cause muscle relaxation or loss of muscle control, difficulty with motor movements, feeling drunk, speech problems, nausea, memory loss, loss of consciousness, confusion, dizziness, sleepiness, lower blood pressure, stomach problems and death.
GHB can come in a liquid form with no odour or colour, as a white powder or as a pill. It has a slightly salty taste that can be masked by mixing it with fruit juice. GHB takes effect in about 15 minutes and can last for three or four hours. It is potent and easy to overdose on this drug. It can cause the victim to feel relaxed, drowsy, dizzy or nauseous and can lead to problems seeing, lose consciousness, seizures, memory loss, problems breathing, tremors, sweating, vomiting, a slow heart rate, a dream-like feeling and could leave the victim in a coma.
Ketamine is manufactured as a liquid or a white powder with no distinguishing taste. It is fast-acting and you might be aware of what is happening to you, but be unable to move. It causes memory problems. Later, you might not be able to remember what happened while you were drugged. Ketamine can cause distorted perceptions of sight and sound, lost sense of time and identity, out of body experiences, a dream-like feeling, feeling out of control, impaired motor function, problems breathing, convulsions, vomiting, memory problems, numbness, loss of coordination, aggressive or violent behaviour, depression, high blood pressure and slurred speech.
Most victims don’t remember being drugged or sexually-assaulted and the drugs leave the body quickly, making it difficult to confirm that drugs were ingested, but there are some signs to look out for that could indicate that you were the victim of date-rape. These include feeling drunk when you didn’t drink any alcohol or feeling the effects of drinking alcohol are stronger than usual; waking up and feeling disorientated or having no memory of a certain period of time; remembering that you had a drink but not recalling anything after that; finding your clothes are torn or not on right; and feeling like you had sex but you can’t remember it.
How can I protect myself from being a victim? Don’t accept drinks from other people. Open containers yourself. Keep your drink with you at all times, even when you go to the bathroom. Don’t share drinks. Don’t drink from punch bowls or other common, open containers. They may already have drugs in them.
If someone offers to get you a drink from a bar or at a party, go with the person to order your drink. Watch the drink being poured and carry it yourself. Don’t drink anything that tastes or smells strange.
Have a nondrinking friend with you to make sure nothing happens.
If you realise you left your drink unattended, pour it out. If you feel drunk and haven’t drunk any alcohol - or, if you feel like the effects of drinking alcohol are stronger than usual - get help right away.