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Sexual Violence and You

Warning Signs Someone Might Become Sexually Violent

It's important to remember that a person might not show these behaviors from the start. In fact, it's common for someone to try to gain the trust or affection of a victim through flattery, being friendly, extending invitations or offering to pay for things. This may explain why non-stranger rapists often catch victims off guard. Here are some warning signs that someone might become sexually violent.

  • Refuses to let you share any of the expenses on a date.
  • Invades your personal space by sitting too close, using his/her body to block your way, speaking as if he/she knows you better than he/she actually does, or touching you when you ask him/her not to.
  • Insists on being alone with you.
  • Tries to get you intoxicated and/or makes you feel bad for not wanting to get drunk, get high, have sex, or go with him/her to an isolated place like his/her apartment.
  • Treats women as sexual objects and feels entitled to sex.
  • Sexual narcissism

General Protection Measures

It's important to remember that no one is ever at fault for being a victim of violence. The offender is always responsible for violent behavior.

General Protection Measures

  • Street:
    • If you go out after dark, go with a friend. Stay in well-lighted, populated areas. Cross the street if you see anything on your side that makes you nervous. If you are getting dropped off, ask the driver to wait until you are safely inside before leaving.
    • If you go somewhere with friends, stay together and watch out for each other. Don't leave anyone behind or let anyone leave with someone they do not know or someone with whom you are not comfortable.
  • Vehicle:
    • Keep your car doors locked and windows rolled up most of the way.
    • Don't pick up hitchhikers.
    • If you are being followed, don't go home. Drive to the nearest police station or safe place with people visibly present.
    • Check the back seat and floors before you get into your car to be sure no one is hiding.
    • If possible carry a cellular phone, and keep it charged.
    • Keep car keys in hand when approaching your vehicles so that you may enter it with ease.
  • Home:
    • Change old locks when you move to a new residence.
    • Make sure your doors have dead bolts, security chains, and peepholes. Use them.
    • If you suspect your home has been broken into, don't go into your home. Go to a neighbor and call the police.
    • Don't hide spare keys outdoors. They are too easy to find.
    • Lock your doors and windows, draw shades/blinds at night, and leave a light on implying that someone is home.
    • Don't hesitate to call 911 if you think you are in danger.

Remember, sexual violence is more likely to be committed by someone you know and trust, not by a stranger.

Alcohol, Drugs and Rape

Alcohol and Rape
Alcohol is the number one drug used to facilitate sexual violence and rape. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 2002 report on college drinking estimates that more than 70,000 students, 18-24 years of age, survive alcohol related rape/sexual violence each year. Sometimes a rapist takes advantage of someone who chooses to drink recreationally. Sometimes the victim is drinking voluntarily, and sometimes the perpetrator pressures her/him to drink heavily so that she/he will be less capable of resisting an assault. Alcohol is the most commonly used drug to facilitate rape.

The effects of alcohol include impaired judgment and motor coordination, disinhibition, dizziness, confusion, and extreme drowsiness. If enough alcohol is consumed, an individual may lose consciousness or may not remember details of what occurred. Alcohol is also credited with the misinterpretation of body language and sexual intent. For example, men may overestimate women's interest in them as sexual partners and friendly behavior may be mistaken for sexual intent.

Signs that you may have been drugged/raped:
1. You wake up very hung over
2. You have a memory lapse or a period of time for which you cannot acccount
3. You remember having a drink but can't recall what happened afterwards
4. You have sensations of drunkenness that do not correspond with the amounts of alcohol consumed
5. You feel as though someone had sex with you, but you can't remember
6. You have unexplainable signs of physical trauma

Drugs and Rape
Predatory drugs, also referred to as date rape drugs, are causing increasing concern on college and university campuses across the United States. The term predatory drug is used to describe substances such as Rohypnol, GHB, and Ketamine--drugs commonly used to facilitate rape and other forms of sexual violence. But technically, any substance that is used to prevent you from asserting yourself or your needs is a predatory drug. This includes marijuana, ecstasy, over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and alcohol.

Predatory drugs are easily slipped into food and beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and are fast-acting. Like most drugs, predatory drugs render a person incapable of making appropriate decisions. They impair motor coordination, judgment, and the person's ability to remember details of what happened while the drug was active in her/his system. This produces a passive victim, one who is aware of and able to play a role in what is happening but who will have no clear memory of events after-the-fact. The use of predatory drugs creates a victim who does not have the opportunity to say no.

Sexual predators rarely use these drugs with the intent of using them safely. It is not likely that a predator has taken the time to measure out a safe dose; therefore one person may feel dizziness or confusion while another person may lapse into a coma.

Predatory drugs are virtually undetectable in food and beverages; most are colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Traces of most predatory drugs leave the body within 72 hours of ingestion and cannot be detected in any routine toxicology screen or blood test. Because of memory loss and the speed at which the drugs metabolize, it can be difficult to make and support a claim that a drug was used to facilitate sexual violence. Doctors and police have to be looking specifically for them and they have to act quickly.

For these reasons, it is important that you familiarize yourself with these drugs, their adverse effects, and how to protect yourself in social situations.

GHB (Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate)
GHB was banned in the United States in 1990 and approved only for medical use in July 2002 for the treatment of narcolepsy. Prior to the ban, it was marketed and sold at health food stores as both a sleep-aid and a body building supplement.

The effects of GHB:
GHB is a central nervous system depressant. Effects occur within 10-15 minutes after ingestion and last 2-3 hours unless combined with alcohol, where effects can last 20-30 hours. Large doses of GHB can produce sleep within five minutes. Once in your system the drug can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, dehydration, seizures, respiratory depression, hallucinations, giddiness, disinhibition and unconsciousness. When mixed with alcohol, GHB can cause coma and/or death.

GHB can cause partial or complete amnesia, meaning you may not be able to remember anything you did or anything that was done to you while under the influence of the drug.

What does GHB look like?
GHB is most often manufactured by non-professionals who combine various chemical ingredients in kitchen sinks or bathtubs, meaning that the drug varies in purity, concentration, and potency; the same amount from two separate batches can have very different effects. GHB is usually distributed in colorless, odorless liquid form but can also be a white crystalline powder. It may be detected by a slight salty taste. It is usually sold by the capful and cost ranges from $5-25 per capful.

Street names for GHB: Grievous Bodily Harm (GHB), Liquid X, Easy Lay, G, Vita-G, G-Juice, Georgia Home Boy, Great Hormones, Somatomax, Bedtime Scoop, Soap, Gamma 10, and Energy Drink.

Rohypnol (flunitrazepam)
Rohypnol is the brand name for flunitrazepam, a benzodiazephine drug used to treat sleep disorders. It is in the same family of medication as Valium and Xanax, but it is ten times more potent. In the United States Rohypnol has not been approved for medical use and it is illegal to manufacture, distribute or possess the drug.

The effects of Rohypnol:
Rohypnol is a fast-acting sedative. Effects occur within 15-20 minutes after ingestion and last 6-12 hours depending on dosage and whether or not it was mixed with alcohol. Once in your system, the drug can cause drowsiness, confusion, impaired motor skills, dizziness, disinhibition, dehydration, impaired judgment and a reduced level of consciousness. When combined with alcohol Rohypnol can produce extremely low blood pressure, respiratory depression, difficulty breathing, coma or death.

Like GHB, Rohypnol can cause partial or complete amnesia, meaning you may not be able to remember anything you did or anything that was done to you while under the influence of the drug.

What does Rohypnol look like?
Rohypnol is usually found in 1-2 milligram white tablets, in clear, foil-backed packaging. Cost ranges from $3-5 per tablet. Pills can be ground into powder form. Rohypnol dissolves in liquid, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and is colorless, odorless and tasteless. The company that manufactures Rohypnol, Hoffman-LaRoche, has taken measures to make the drug more identifiable: newer tablets create a blue-green dye when dissolved in liquid and take longer to dissolve.

Street names for Rohypnol: Ruffies, Roofies, Rophies, Roches, La Rochas, Rope, Rib, Forget Pill, Whiteys, Mind Erasers, Mexican Vallium, Lunch Money.

Ketamine (Ketamine Hydrochloride)
Ketamine is a general anesthetic used in human and veterinary medicine. It is most commonly used for veterinary purposes.

The effects of Ketamine:
Ketamine is an anesthetic. Effects occur within 15-20 minutes after ingestion. The hallucinatory effects last approximately one hour or less but senses, judgment and coordination may be affected for up to 24 hours. Ketamine can cause delirium, hallucinations, long-term memory and cognitive difficulties, respiratory depression, heart rate abnormalities and a withdrawal syndrome. Higher doses produce an effect known as a "K-hole", which is described as an out-of-body experience. When in the emergent state, time passes very slowly. In high doses, simple tasks such as dialing a phone are impossible. Balance is difficult, walking requires extreme thought and vision becomes blurred. When combined with alcohol, Ketamine can be fatal.

Like Rohypnol and GHB, Ketamine can cause partial or complete amnesia meaning that you may not be able to remember anything you did or anything that was done to you while under the influence of the drug.

What does Ketamine look like?
Ketamine is produced and distributed in clear liquid form that is available as an injectable prescription drug. It can also be administered orally in the form of white or off-white powder that can be snorted, smoked or swallowed. It is odorless, colorless and tasteless. It is sold per dosage unit and cost ranges from $20-25.

Street names for Ketamine: K, Special K, Vitamin K, Black Hole, Bump, Jet, K-Hole, Kit Kat, Psychedelic Heroin, Purple.

Protecting Yourself from Alcohol/Drug Facilitated Rape

  • Stay with friends and watch out for each other.
  • Take notice if someone appears to be intoxicated at a level disproportionate to the amount of alcohol they have consumed.
  • Designate a sober friend to watch out for you and your friends and make sure you periodically check up on each other.
  • Call 911 if someone passes out and is difficult to wake up, seems to be having difficulty breathing, is behaving in an uncharacteristic way, or gets sick after drinking a beverage.
  • Be cautious about those from whom you accept drinks.
  • Never leave with someone you just met, and don't let a friend leave with someone she just met.
  • Watch your drink.
  • Prepare your own drinks when possible.
  • Don't share drinks.
  • Don't drink from a container that is being passed around.
  • Don't drink from a punch bowl.
  • Only drink beverages that you open yourself.
  • Bring your own drinks.
  • Don't leave your drink unattended; discard unattended drinks.
  • If you see or hear that someone is dosing a drink or a punch bowl, take action. Confront the person, warn others, discard the drink.

If You are a Victim of Sexual Violence

These guidelines are for 72-120 hours after an incident occurs.

  1. Go to a safe place.
  2. Call a friend, family member or someone else you trust to be with you.
  3. If you would like to speak with a counselor, the Sexual Assault Center staffs volunteers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The number is 706-353-1912. All calls are confidential.
  4. We encourage you to seek medical care. You can receive care at a hospital emergency department or at the Sexual Assault Center. Your medical care provider should provide you with options for dealing with the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and pregnancy. (Please see the Sexual Health pages for more information about STIs and emergency contraception.) If you believe that you were given a predatory drug, request that a urine sample be taken.
  5. If you want to report the violence: On-campus contact the UGA police at 706-542-2200; Off-campus contact the Athens-Clarke County police at 911.
  6. If you want to report the violence or you think you will want to report the violence, preserve physical evidence. Do not shower, bathe, douche, or brush your teeth. Save all clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault. Do not disturb anything in the area where the assault occurred. Write down as much as you can remember about the circumstances of the assault, including a description of the assailant.
  7. Decide if you want notify campus officials, file a police report, and/or file a complaint with University Judiciary.
  8. Decide if you want to contact your parents.

We encourage you to seek professional counseling, information, or legal assistance to help you deal with the consequences of the assault.

Common Reactions to Assault

From Treating the Trauma of Rape by Edna B. Foa & Barbara Olasov Rothbaum

An assault is a traumatic experience that produces emotional shock and causes many emotional problems. The following describes some of the common reactions people have after a trauma. Because everyone responds differently to traumas, you may have some of these reactions more than others. Please read carefully, and think about any changes in your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors since the assault.

Remember, many changes after a trauma are common. In fact, 95% of rape victims have severe problems 2 weeks after the rape. About half of these women feel much better within 3 months after the rape, but the other half recover more slowly, and many do not recover without help. Becoming more aware of the changes you've undergone since your assault is the first step toward recovery. Some of the most common problems after a trauma are described below.

Fear and anxiety are common and natural responses to a dangerous situation. For many, they last long after the assault has ended. This happens when views of the world and a sense of safety have changes. You may become anxious when you remember your assault, but sometimes anxiety may come out of the blue. Triggers or cues that can cause anxiety may include places, times of day, certain smells or noises, or any situation that reminds you of the assault. As you begin to pay more attention to the times you feel afraid, you can discover the triggers for your anxiety. In this way, you may learn that some of the "out of the blue" anxiety is really triggered by things that remind you of the assault.

Reexperiencing of the trauma is common among women who have been assaulted. For example, you may have unwanted thoughts of the assault, and find yourself unable to get rid of them. Some women have flashbacks, or very vivid images as if the assault is occurring again. Nightmares are also common. These symptoms occur because a traumatic experience is so shocking and so different from everyday experiences that you can't fit it into what you know about the world. So in order to understand what happened, your mind keeps bringing the memory back, as if to try to digest it and fit it in.

Increased arousal is also a common response to trauma. This includes feeling jumpy, jittery, or shaky; being easily startled; and having trouble concentrating or sleeping. Continuous arousal can lead to impatience and irritability, especially if you're not getting enough sleep. The arousal reactions are caused by the fight-or-flight responses kicking in in your body. The fight-or-flight response is the way we protect ourselves from danger, and it also occurs in animals. When we protect ourselves from danger by fighting or running away, we need a lot more energy than usual, so our bodies pump out extra adrenaline to help us get the extra energy we need to survive. People who have been assaulted often see the world as filled with danger, so their bodies are on constant alert, always ready to respond immediately to any attack. The problem is that increased arousal is useful in truly dangerous situations, such as if we find ourselves facing a tiger. But alertness becomes very uncomfortable when it continues for a long time even in safe situations. Another reaction to danger is to freeze, like a deer in headlights, and this reaction often occurs during an assault.

Avoidance is a common way of managing trauma-related pain. The most common type is avoiding situations that remind you of the assault, such as the place where it happened. Often situations that are less directly related to the trauma are also avoided such as going out in the evening if you were assaulted at night. Another way to try to reduce discomfort is trying to push away painful thoughts and feelings. This can lead to feelings of numbness, which make it difficult for you to have either fearful or pleasant and loving feelings. Sometimes the painful thoughts or feelings may be so intense that your mind just blocks them out altogether, and you may not remember parts of the assault.

• Many people who have been assaulted feel very angry not only at the assailant but also with others. If you are not used to feeling angry, this may seem scary. It may be especially confusing to feel angry at those who are closest to you. Sometimes people feel angry because of feeling irritable so often. Anger can also arise from a feeling that the world is not fair.

• Trauma also leads to feelings of guilt and shame. Many people blame themselves for things they did or didn't do to survive. For example, same women believe that they should have fought off an assailant and blame themselves for the assault. Others feel that if that had not fought back, they wouldn't have gotten hurt. You may feel ashamed because during the assault you were forced to do something that you would not have otherwise done. Sometimes, too, other people blame you for being assaulted.
Feeling guilty about the assault means that you are taking responsibility for what your assailant did. Although this may make you feel more in control, it can also lead to feelings of helplessness and depression.

Depression is also a common reaction to assault. It can include feeling down, sad, hopeless, or despairing. You may cry more often. You may lose interest in people and activities you used to enjoy. You may also feel that plans you had for the future don't seem to matter anymore, or that life isn't worth living. These feelings can lead to thoughts of wishing you were dead, or doing something to hurt or kill yourself. Because the assault has changed so much of how you see the world and yourself, it makes sense to feel sad and to grieve for what you lost because of the assault.

Self-image often becomes more negative after an assault. You may tell yourself, "If I hadn't been so weak or stupid, this wouldn't have happened to me." Many women see themselves more negatively overall after the assault ("I'm a bad person and deserved this"). It's also very common to see others and the world more negatively, and to feel that you can't trust anyone. If you used to think about the world as a safe place, the assault suddenly makes you think that the world is dangerous. If you had previous bad experiences, the assault convinces you that the world is dangerous and others aren't to be trusted. These negative thoughts often make women feel they have been changed completely by the assault. Relationships with others- ever the ones you love most- can become tense, and it is difficult to become intimate with people as your trust decreases. In fact, you may find that the people closest to you are not supportive of you or have difficulty hearing about your assault.

Sexual relationships may also suffer after a traumatic experience. Many women find it difficult to feel sexual or have sexual relationships. This is especially true of women who have been sexually assaulted, since in addition to the lack of trust, sex itself is a reminder of the assault. Some women become more sexual than they were before in an attempt to regain control of their sexuality. They may make higher risk sexual decisions than they would have made prior to the assault.

Many of the reactions to trauma are connected to one another. For example, a flashback may make you feel out of control, and will therefore produce fear and arousal. Many women think that their common reactions to trauma mean they are "going crazy" or "losing it." These thoughts can make them even more fearful Again, as you become aware of the changes you have gone through since the assault, and as you process these experiences during treatment, the symptoms should become less distressing.

If a Friend is a Victim of Sexual Violence

Be available.
If the friend has come to you, it's because s/he trusts you and needs your support. If your friend does not come to you, but you sense that s/he may have experienced violence, approach your friend gently to express your concern. Say something like, "I'm concerned because…" Don't ignore the problem; it will not go away, and talking can be an important step in improving the situation. If s/he is not ready to talk, be patient and ask again a few days later.

Be attentive.
Listen respectfully and believe what s/he tells you. Realize your friend is taking a risk by sharing her/his experience with you. Avoid judging, blaming and interrogating. Let your friend know that you care and want to help. Be sure you protect your friend's privacy and confidentiality and honor her/his trust. Do not share what you've heard with anyone without permission.

Assure your friend.
Make sure s/he knows the violence is not her/his fault, that s/he is not alone, and that help is available. Remind them of these things frequently.

Be your friend's advocate.
Review the information in the If You are a Victim of Sexual Violence section on medical care, reporting to police or campus officials and counseling. Encourage your friend to decide what to do. Project Safe and the Sexual Assault Center have 24-hour a day, confidential hotlines that provide support and information about these decisions.

Assist your friend.
Help your friend follow through with the decisions s/he makes. This may mean accompanying your friend to the hospital or to the police, or giving your friend a place to stay for a few nights.

Please visit Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention page for more information.