Date Rape & Staying Safe – A Guide

Date Rape Drugs come in many forms & anyone can fall prey to them in many scenarios. The term ‘date rape’ itself can be misleading as the offender might not be in a relationship or on a date with the victim. 

The offender can be someone the victim knows well, someone they know through friends/family or someone they have just met. This guide aims to discuss this topic in more detail and provide useful information on how to stay safe.

What is date rape?

Rape is defined as sexual intercourse without one party’s consent, this can happen in many ways. There may be situations where the victim is unable to give consent due to physical or mental infirmity, rape does not always involve force or violence. ‘Date rape’ is when an offender is involved in forcing or coercing a victim into non-consensual and unwanted sexual activity. 

The offender uses drugs or alcohol to make the rape or assault easier as the victim is confused about what is happening and less able to defend themselves. The offender is normally an ‘acquaintance’ and doesn’t have to be in any sort of romantic relationship with the victim as the term ‘date rape’ suggests. This can happen to anyone, the victim can be out with someone they know or be meeting someone for the first time. 

Stats & data – How Common is date rape?

The most recent report published by the Office of National Statistics shows rape offences have increased dramatically in England and Wales since 2012/13. The number of rape offences in the year ending June 2021 was 61, 158, the highest ever recorded annual figure to date. 

A Home office survey found only 8 percent of rape cases were carried out by strangers, women were most at risk from their partners, former partners, men they are dating and acquaintances. Date rape drugs are estimated to involve in up to one in five reported cases. 

Although it is difficult to accurately quantify date rape assaults in surveys, the results definitely highlight the need to stay safe when drinking alcohol.

What drugs and methods are commonly used, and where?

Offenders normally use alcohol alone or in combination of other drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, prescription drugs like anti-depressants, tranquilizers or sleeping pills. ‘Club drugs’ are also used and include flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), and ketamine. These drugs are normally used on a night out at parties, clubs, bars or concerts.

Date rape drugs or alcohol is used to overpower the victim in a way which makes them less conscious of what is happening to them or even forget what has happened. This makes it easier for the offender to commit the assault as the victim is not able to defend themselves. The offender may put the drugs in the victims drink without them knowing or push the victim to drink more than they would normally do.

Date rape can occur anywhere, however offenders will normally use opportunities such as parties, dance clubs concerts where people are likely to consume alcohol. This would make it easier to the offender to be able to spike the victims drink or encourage more drinking.

What do date rape drugs look/taste like?

Date rape drugs can be very difficult to detect as some look like regular drinks or similar to other pills. Rohypnol, GBL, GHB and ketamine can be in the form of a liquid, powder or pills, normally these drugs will have no taste, colour or smell when added to food or drink.  However if a date rape is added to a clear drink, it  may make the drink look cloudy, however again this can be difficult to see if the drink is dark in colour or there is not much light in the room. 

What should I do if I suspect I’ve been date raped?

You should reach out and speak to someone you trust straight away, you will need someone to support you through this. Remember you should not have to go through this alone. As difficult as it may be, you must try not to shower, urinate, bath, brush your teeth or hair and even eat. All of these things will make a huge difference in collecting evidence when you report the matter to the police. Evidence of the assault may also be taken from your body and from clothes you were wearing. Date rape drugs can leave the body very quickly, it is therefore important to get help as soon as possible.

After the assault, it is normal to feel a range of different emotions, however you must get help. If you are unsure or unable to speak to someone you know, there are organisations out there who are able to provide free confidential advice and support;

Rape Crisis (England & Wales)
0808 802 9999
www.rapecrisis.org.uk

How to avoid and stay safe from date rape drugs?

Here are a few steps that you can take to try and stay safe;

  1. Look out for one another, ask friends to keep an eye out for you and you can do the same for them.
  2. Don’t accept drinks from other people unless you are present at the bar and can see the drink being poured yourself.
  3. Make sure to open any drinks yourself.
  4. Be aware of drinks in containers or bowls (punchbowls) which can be spiked easily.
  5. Don’t let anyone pressure you into drinking more than you want to.
  6. If you feel your drink may have been spiked, try to get help straight away.
  7. Don’t drink anything which smells or tastes strange.

This list is in no way exhaustive and there is never enough steps we can all take to stay safe. It’s always a good idea to let family members or people that are close to you know where you are going too, it may feel like a breach of your private life and the right to live freely, however these small steps may make all the difference in keeping you safe. 

We understand how difficult it is to see someone you know or love experiencing such trauma, sometimes trying to help a victim is not easy. It’s important to remember that you are not alone and the first step that you should take is to talk to someone. No one should have to deal with abuse alone.

Here at the Criminal Injuries Helpline, we help victims of violent crime and abuse recover compensation. You may want to help the victim gain some justice, get in touch with us today to see if the victim would qualify.

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