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Understanding date rape

Date rape is a continuing problem in Virginia and across the nation. While both men and women can be raped, women are most often the victims of rape. GirlsHealth defines rape as any sexual act forced upon a woman by someone else, including intercourse, sodomy or insertion of an object into her mouth, rectum or vagina. Date rape is a rape committed by someone the woman knows, such as her current boyfriend.

One of the most important things to know about date rape is that it has nothing to do with love or even with sex per se. It is strictly about the power and control that the perpetrator exerts over the victim. The law considers any kind of rape to be a crime, including date rape and nonconsensual sex when a couple is in a relationship.

Date rape drugs

The Office on Women’s Health warns that perpetrators often drug their victims before raping them. The three most common date rape drugs, also called “club drugs” because perpetrators usually use them at dance clubs and concerts, are the following:

  • Rohypnol a/k/a Roofies
  • GHB a/k/a Liquid Ecstasy and Cherry Meth
  • Ketamine a/k/a Kit Kat and Special K

All of these drugs are powerful and dangerous. Since they easily dissolve in alcoholic and other beverages and have no noticeable odor, color or taste, a woman can be drugged without knowing it. Once she is, she has little control over herself and consequently has no way to prevent being raped. She may not even remember it afterwards.

Drug effects and durations

Rohypnol usually takes effect in about half an hour and lasts for several hours. The victim generally appears to be drunk, even when she has consumed no alcohol. GHB is faster acting, usually taking only 15 minutes to take effect; it lasts for three to four hours, during which time the victim can lose consciousness and have problems breathing. Ketamine acts almost immediately, rendering the victim basically paralyzed although conscious.

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