The typical high school party scene: boys and girls intermingling, the occasional red cup of alcohol, the lights dimmed as the music pounds. As she walks in the room, a boy catches her eye. He’s cute. They begin to talk and as they start walking together, and without her noticing, he slips a small pill into her cup. Before she knows it, she begins to stumble and forgets where she is as his hand slowly drags her into an isolated room. Her friends are busy talking and never notice what had just happened.
“I was at a party and a guy slipped something into my drink. I woke up the next day, he was next to me, and I had no remembrance of the night before,” says an anonymous date-rape victim.
While occasionally overlooked, date-rape is a prominent high school and college-aged girls’ issue. Date rape falls under the umbrella of rape and sexual assault, differing from rape in that the victim knows their aggressor.
“The biggest misconception people have…[is that] unconsciously, they think of [date rape] as ‘rape-light’…in that, well, if I know the person, it probably won’t be as bad,” self defense teacher Meg Hinkley says. She explains that there is a higher possibility of harm from someone the victim knows, than from a stranger. Although date rape occurs to both males and females, women are six times more likely to be date raped than men according to a survey by the National Crime Victimization Center. And although this problem may seem distant to some, date rape is not uncommon in high school and college—in fact, women in the 16 to 25 age group are more at risk for date-rape than any other age groups.

Effects of Drugs and Alcohol
According to Womenshealth.gov, the three most common types of “Date rape Drugs” are GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid), Ketamine, and Rohypnol (commonly known as a “roofie”). Hollywood occasionally portrayed these drugs humorously in movies, such as the recent film The Hangover; however, these drugs are anything but comic. These powerful and dangerous drugs can be slipped into drinks undetected: they may be odorless, colorless and tasteless. They often confuse and weaken the victim, disabling them to refuse sex, defend themselves, or remember what happened.
GHB can be found as an odorless, colorless liquid, a white powder, or a pill. It can make the drink saltier, but the taste is easily masked. GHB takes effect in approximately 15 minutes and can last up to 3 or 4 hours. It is difficult to determine its exact effects due to the fact that it is generally made in homes or street “labs.”
Ketamine can be found as a liquid or a white powder and is very fast-acting. The victim may be rendered incapable of moving or remembering the incident as a result of the drug.
Rohypnol comes as a round, white pill or an oval, green-grey pill that dissolves in liquid. While the first pill doesn’t affect the color or opacity of the drink, the latter turns clear liquids bright blue and dark drinks cloudy. However, these color changes are difficult to notice in darker drinks or a dark room. The effects from Rohypnol are similar to those that come with consuming too much alcohol, and are typically experienced within 30 minutes and last several hours.
It is a common misconception that date rape occurs only as a result of these drugs. New Scientist magazine explains that “drinking, not drink spiking, may be behind the vast majority of date rapes. An analysis of blood and urine samples suggests that while most victims were drunk at the time of the assault, very few had taken sedatives.”
Hinkley agrees, “90 percent of the [date rapes] that happen for high school and college aged girls is under the influence of alcohol,” she says.
Because alcohol impairs judgment, a man under the influence is more likely to interpret a woman’s behavior, clothing, or body language as evidence of her consent to have intercourse. Alcohol also lowers inhibitions, making a potential attacker more likely to ignore “no’s” from an unwilling partner.
Alcohol consumption affects the victim as well, damaging her ability to recognize that a situation is potentially dangerous. She may not notice warning signs, such as someone trying to get her to drink more alcohol or take her to a private location. “If you’re drinking, you’re an easier target [for date rape] because it’s hard to fight when you’re drunk. You may make a decision to go off with a guy at a party,” Hinkley explains. “You put yourself in a worse situation because you’re not thinking as clearly.”
Women who are under the influence of alcohol while they are sexually assaulted often feel personally responsible for getting in that situation.

Psychological Effects?
According to Kansas State University, date rape is the “most under-reported crime” of high school and college aged students, a fact corroborated by Hinkley, Upper School Counselor Margaret Morse, and private practice therapist Beverly Bonnheim, MSSW.
Morse notes that the reasons date rape is often under-reported vary, but mostly revolve around the idea that “the girl wonders if she’s guilty in some way or she starts to blame herself.” According to Morse, it’s the tendency of the victim to protect the aggressor because, in turn, this protects herself. Since she knew the person she agreed to go out with, she may think that she has a “bad judge of character.” Therefore, there is fear that reporting the rape could embarrass or reflect badly on her. Additionally, a small part of why many cases do go unreported is, “because [the victim] has that personal relationship with [the aggressor]…[and] still cares about them,” says Morse.
Date rape victims are affected emotionally as well. The victim often lives in fear. “In a rape, a woman is victimized…the hardest [psychological effect of date rape] is understanding what being a victim means—that there are some things out of our control,” says Bonnheim.
Morse explains that the victim often has trouble trusting people. “[The victim is] in a very scary place of not knowing how to relate to people and engage and feel safe in relationships.”
Victims of date rape may experience Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder Syndrom (PTSD). Symptoms of PTSD include re-experiencing the trauma, uncontrollable and intrusive thoughts of the rape, social withdrawal, and avoidance of situations that might stimulate memories, irritableness, hostility, rage, and anger. Although Morse says that it’s natural for someone to pretend that this experience didn’t happen and repress it, something may trigger a memory of the rape in the victim’s mind days, months, or years after the incident.
“This is not going to go away by just forgetting about it and pretending that it didn’t happen,” Morse says. “It’s very important for people to get the help they need so they can start the healing and learn to trust themselves again and learn to trust other people.” Bonnheim adds that an important part of coping with the rape is, “entering into a safe relationship where a person can talk about the trauma and can deal with it.”

Hockaday?
According to Hinkley, date rapes that occur in high school usually happen at a party or in the victim’s home, and alcohol consumption is usually involved. “When you go to a party or go out, you’re in a good frame of mind, you’re having fun. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to meet somebody and get to know somebody,” Hinkley explains. “A downside of that [is that] your awareness isn’t up like it should be.”
Hockaday educates girls about how to avoid this situation. As part of her curriculum, Hockaday’s Director of Wellness, Rebecca Calhoun, invites nationally acclaimed Katie Koestner to speak to students about her experience with date rape at the age of 18. Koestner is a vocal opponent of date rape and was feature on Time magazine’s June 3, 1991 “Date Rape” issue.
Morse and Hinkley agree that the required self defense class taught at Hockaday is the most effective way to educates girls about date rape. “[Date rape] is addressed very strongly in self defense,” Hinkley says. Along with learning self defense moves, discussing date rape, and watching numerous movies on the subject, Hinkley makes students aware of the “red flags” of date rapist behaviors.
According to Hinkley, date rapists usually follow a pattern: plying their victim with alcohol, becoming touchy in an aggressive way, starting sexual conversations, and trying to get their victim somewhere isolated.
While date rape may seem like a distant fear to many, it is increasingly possible, frighteningly probable, and has already happened to many high school and college-age girls.

How to Avoid Date-Rape:
At a Party:
– Stay sober and aware.

– When at parties, don’t accept drinks from other people, and keep your drink with you at all times.

– Only drink from containers you opened yourself and avoid common containers such as punchbowls.

  • If you haven’t had any alcohol, but feel drunk, don’t ignore it. Alert someone and get help right away.
  • Go to parties with friends, so you can watch out for each other.

On a Date:

  • Avoid secluded places until you trust the person you are with. Avoid being alone with that person.
  • Trust your instincts and immediately remove yourself from the situation if you feel uncomfortable.
  • Know what you want in a relationship, and make that clear to the other person. Don’t let anyone pressure you.

If You Are a Date-Rape Victim

  • Don’t wait to get help if you are raped. Immediate help may make the identification of the rapist possible.
  • Write down everything you remember. Every detail could help police in identifying and finding the rapist.
  • Don’t be ashamed to tell an adult or go to the hospital if you are raped, even if you don’t want to press charges. It’s not your fault, get the help you need.
  • Need help but too scared to talk to anyone? Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673)

What is Being Done to Stop Date-Rape?

While date rape is a growing problem, several organizations have been established to help women protect themselves and instill anti-violence mentalities in men.
Men Can Stop Rape, Inc.(MCSR), is a program that has been established to mobilize “male youth to prevent men’s violence against women. MCSR strives to create violence-free cultures across the world. Rather than criminalize all males as “the problem,” MCSR emphasizes the qualities that foster healthy relationships through its youth development program, pubic education messages, and leadership training. Since its creation in 1987, MCSR has been spreading its message in high schools, on college campuses, in the military, and in public health centers.
The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, a statewide organization dedicated to eliminating sexual violence throughout the state, has established over 80 crisis centers in both rural and urban areas to help victims of date rape and sexual assault. They educate communities on the pervasiveness and nature of sexual violence, and how to stop assault, date rape, and trafficking before it occurs.
MCSR and TAASA are among numerous national and international organizations that are working to combat date rape and sexual violence. Their common goal is to help sexual assault victims and to educate the public in order to decrease the number of victims affected each year.