sexual abuse should never be trivialised

The euphemistically titled date rape is also a common experience. Date rape, also called acquaintance rape, is perpetrated not just by dating partners but also by acquaintances, friends, or co-workers. Some perpetrators spike the victim’s drink with drugs like Rohypnol, Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate, or Ketamine Hydrochloride that act quickly and are almost undetectable. The anaesthetised victim is only vaguely aware of what is happening at the time, and they have no memory of the rape later. Rape is trivialized by the jocose street names of these drugs such as ‘Forget-me-pill’, ‘Easy-Lay’, ‘Scoop Her’, ‘Ellie’, and ‘Make-Her-Mine’. Date rape sometimes leads to the unspeakably violent crime of gang rape, which is accompanied by physical assault and humiliation. It causes great distress and powerlessness that can eventually culminate in suicide.
A few of the signs that you may have been raped under the influence of these drugs include soreness or bruising in the genital area, soreness in the anal area, bruising of the thighs, and defensive bruising. You may also experience the side effects of hallucinations, intoxication and feel hung over, with loss of memory for the event. Descriptions from your friends about your behaviour when under the influence of date rape drugs, is a reliable sign of sexual assault. However, only a medical examination, performed before the excretion of the drugs, can confirm if you have been drugged.
It is important for you to be aware of this type of rape and to take every precaution to protect yourself when you are socialising. Being with friends and having a charged mobile (cell) phone is strongly recommended. Even more so, it is advisable to remain sober, because alcohol is involved in 50% of sexual assaults. Intoxication exposes victims to sexual predators, who often use the pretext of being drunk as an excuse to commit sexual crimes. Reports in Ireland suggest that Christmas is the worst time for sexual attacks because of the amount of alcohol consumed then. Binge drinking is largely blamed for the increased number of sexual assaults. Inhibitions are lowered by alcohol, but alcohol does not cause or excuse abuse. As I said in the Introduction, an abuser is always an abuser, drunk or sober.
Recent newspaper stories about rape incidents in Ireland reveal that many people have little sympathy for women who are raped when drunk. This attitude is also true of other countries. Research shows that 40% of the public feel that the victim is partly responsible if she has been drinking. Some victims are blamed for their risqué dress or behaviour. Women who wear short skirts and skimpy tops are perceived as ‘asking for it’. Women who flirt or dress provocatively do not deserve to be raped, and sexual abusers have little respect for women, regardless of how they dress. In some parts of the world, this disrespect may be part of a culture that sees women as inferior.
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

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