Gut Check: Making simple sense out of life
By Lenore Skomal Erie Times-News staff blogger
Lenore Skomal is an award-winning author and veteran journalist in all forms of media. She is a weekly columnist and daily blogger for the Erie Times-News. She’s authored 17 published books, including an anthology of her columns, Burnt Toast available on her website www.lenoreskomal.net.   Read more about this blog.
Posted: December 4th, 2012
Date rapes on the rise

It’s actually called “acquaintance rape” but even that is a misnomer since often times, the victim might not even know his/her attacker at all, but just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Such as at a bar or a party.

Perhaps the best term to describe what I’m talking about is drug-facilitated sexual assault, which according to Wikipedia, “is any sexual assault where alcohol and/or drugs affect the victim’s ability to give informed consent.” The categorization of this type of sexual assault is to set it apart from what society might broadly think of as rape, which usually is defined by violent struggle.

Date rape drugs, according to the U.N.International Narcotics Control Board, are on the rise. But it’s important to note that the most common drug used is alcohol. Second to that are the club drugs Rohypnol, GHB and Ketamine, which go by a variety of street names. The latter, Ketamine, is actually an anesthetic mostly used in veterinary practice. GHB is an FDA-approved drug for the treatment of narcolepsy, and Rohypnol is banned in this country, but has a similar chemical makeup and effect as Xanax and Valium.

The problem with these drugs is that they are odorless and colorless; therefore they can’t be detected if added to a drink.

But all that could change is one entrepreneur has his way. A new startup called DrinkSavvy has developed a type of color changing straw and plastic glassware, which will do just that–change colors when one of these drugs is detected alerting the person sipping from one of them that the drink has been altered. The owner is passionate about the cause because he was a victim of being slipped a club drug unwittingly.

I think it’s a great idea. If you have any exposure to teenagers and college students, you don’t have to ask too many of them before you’ll find someone who has been a victim or at the very least, knows someone who has. When I taught college, I was shocked at the number of my students who had, including several who had been raped. Because of the nature of the drug and its effects, recalling the specifics is difficult at best. But the resulting damage is still there and horrifying.

What’s ironic about all of this is when I was a teen myself, my mother used to warn me when I’d go out, “Don’t let someone slip you a Mickey.” She’d explain what a Mickey Finn was and I’d snicker and pooh-pooh her as being out of her mind. Apparently, she wasn’t.

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