– Corinne McNamara, rape crisis specialist
GHB, “roofies,” Ketamine – all are known as “date rape” drugs. But experts say there is another drug that is easier to get, less expensive, and accounts for more than 65 percent of all date rapes.
Drinking may be a part of Erin’s college experience, but she says she knows her limits.
“I know that when I go out to party my goal is not to go out and get drunk, it’s just to have a good time,” says Erin, 18.
Still, her mom is afraid.
“What I worry is, she’s lost control and she’s at the mercy of whoever she happens to be with,” says Terry Dillard, Erin’s mother.
Alcohol is the real date rape drug. According to a study from the University of Ulster in Ireland, alcohol is involved in more than 65 percent of date rapes. Many experts say the problem is the same in the United States.
“If we drink too much then we don’t pay attention to as many things in our environment,” says Corinne McNamara, rape crisis specialist.
McNamara says that parents should teach their daughters that drinking could compromise their safety.
“Although it’s not your fault if something bad happens to you — for example, if you are raped it’s not your fault – [but] these are some of the things you can do to avoid dangerous situations,” says McNamara.
First, she says, don’t drink underage. It’s dangerous and against the law. Second, if you do drink, bring along a friend who won’t leave your side.
“I think that’s a great idea to have a friend with you on the side who’s sort of like ‘you need to stop now’ or ‘we need to go back to the dorm now,’” says Erin.
Experts add that kids also need to pay attention to their intuition.
“Listen to that voice in the back of your mind that says ‘this is an awkward situation, I need to leave now’,” says Corinne.
Erin knows the risk of sexual assault is real, but she says she won’t be paralyzed by fear.
“I want to be careful with what I do, but I don’t want to go out there and just stay away from everything, keep myself locked up in my room, not be a part of things because I’m scared something bad might happen to me,” says Erin.
Tips for Parents
- Make sure your children know the basic facts about drinking: it slows reflexes, distorts vision, reduces coordination, can cause memory lapses and even blackouts; it can lead to poor judgment and lowered inhibitions – which can lead to risky behaviors like driving while drunk and unprotected sex; that drinking large quantities of alcohol at one time or very rapidly can cause potentially fatal alcohol poisoning; and that it’s illegal to possess or obtain alcohol under the age of 21. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
- Avoid secluded places (this may even mean your room or your partner’s room) until you trust your partner. (Nemours Foundation)
- Don’t spend time alone with someone who makes you feel uneasy or uncomfortable. This means following your instincts and removing yourself from situations that you don’t feel good about. (Nemours Foundation)
- Stay sober and aware. If you’re with someone you don’t know very well, be aware of what’s going on around you and try to stay in control. Also, if you are a male, be aware of your date’s ability to consent to sexual activity; you may become guilty of committing rape if the other person is not in a condition to respond or react. (Nemours Foundation)
- If you’re injured, go straight to the emergency room — most medical centers and hospital emergency departments have doctors and counselors who have been trained to take care of someone who has been raped. (Nemours Foundation)
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Human Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- Nemours Foundation