Everything you ever wanted to know about date rape… maybe.

| Sex Columnist

According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), women aged 16-24 not only experience rape at a rate four times higher than the assault rate of all women, but 25 percent of these women have been victims of rape or attempted rape since turning 14 years old, around the onset of puberty.

Located in a high-crime metropolitan area and permeated with extraordinary academic minds, Washington University’s bubble-like environment seems almost unreal. But there is definitely comfort in that, says an anonymous junior female in the Olin School of Business: “It just never crossed my mind. It never occurred to me that someone at this school would attempt to [rape someone].”

As positive as it is that very few students feel sexually threatened on or off campus, perhaps this bubble-like mentality can also lead to an increase in sexually compromising situations, maybe even without the victim’s awareness. As one anonymous senior female professed, “I think it happens way too often for it to be ignored. People just don’t see it. They are like hey—look: I just got handed a drink!” And that is where the process of date or acquaintance rape often starts. Awareness and education, as with any social issue, is the key to prevention.

So how does date rape typically occur in a party or social situation? According to professor and clinical psychologist Felicia Romeo of Florida Atlantic University, a date rape perpetrator will first attempt to isolate the victim from his or her peers or social surroundings, with or without administering drugs or alcohol. The drugs normally used in date rape situations are Rohypnol (“roofies”), Gamma Hydrobutrate (“g-juice” or “GHB”) and Ketamine (“Special K”). All of these drugs work especially well for sexual assault perpetrators in that they can all be easily ground into colorless powders that dissolve seamlessly into alcoholic beverages. Even beyond date rape and loss of consciousness, these drugs, when combined with alcohol, can all result in death. Although GHB takes about 30 minutes to affect one’s system, Ketamine and Rohypnol act almost instantly. Both Ketamine and GHB are legal (although they are tightly distributed through prescription only) in the United States.

But are these drugs “real” in our Wash. U. bubble? Although those involved in positive social groups such as S.A.R.A.H.  (Sexual Assault and Rape Anonymous Helpline), Uncle Joe’s or R.A. programs verify their existence and even significance in party situations, many fraternity members contend that it “just doesn’t happen.” One member of an off-campus fraternity even questioned if any Wash. U. students were able to gain access to such drugs or if they would go out of their way to try to access these illicit substances. When asked if any fraternity members have ever expressed “crossing the line” with a girl or using substance to initiate sexual encounters, an anonymous senior from an on-campus fraternity merely remarked: “Wash. U. students don’t have enough sex to begin with to start venturing into the date rape scene.” Another anonymous senior quaffed, “My brothers? Never. Their brothers? Never. To be in the company of a woman, whether or not either of us is lubricated by alcohol, is something that most Wash. U. [males] cherish—given that this is a rare occurrence.”

Is it true, however, that a relatively tame and inexperienced sexual community prevents date rape? Perhaps not. With our bountiful reservoir of services like S.A.R.A.H., Student Health Services and even WUPD that support date rape victims and promote prevention, the existence of date rape and acquaintance rape at Wash. U. must be a reality. Nonconsensual and “gray-area” sexual situations do occur, but perhaps they are underreported due to their supposed rare incidence or the victim’s lack of knowledge. More specifically, those without much sexual experience may find themselves in compromising sexual situations and not be aware of how to handle them. As a consequence of such compromising situations, victims feel guilt and shame but are often unable to articulate what happened. Was it rape, or was it just a misunderstanding? These experiences go unreported, and the occurrence of date rape remains elusive, right here in our Wash. U. bubble.

  • R

    Nice piece Lucy, keep up the good work.

  • Dan

    On what basis can you say Washington University is “[l]ocated in a high-crime metropolitan area?” The City of St. Louis may be one of the most crime filled cities in the country, but it does not follow that the St. Louis metropolitan area is a “high-crime” metro area. The City of St. Louis has a population of around 300,000 whereas the metro area is upwards of 2.5 million. Please don’t pass information as fact without some sort of basis, even in an opinion piece.

    Why is so much of the article devoted to date rape drugs? Are those relevant to most date rapes? Is not the issue that men and women at Washington University have or attempt to have sex while intoxicated and the acts take place either without the women’s consent or without the ability of the women to even give consent, due to the chemical intoxication of the women? I don’t have statistics, but I would guess that most date rape at Washington University is with alcohol alone or alcohol combined with marijuana, and not with date rape drugs.

    The story’s title, “Everything you ever wanted to know about date rape… maybe,” is ill-fitting. The story provides nearly no information whatsoever. It is primarily conjecture regarding date rape at the school. The quotes about men at Washington University rarely having sex are probably wrong, but more importantly, they add no value to the story.

    Anonymous accounts by women of their date rape experiences would be more useful for students to realize what actually happens on campus.

  • Emily

    How could you not have gotten one quote “on record.” Have you heard of the Women’s Studies department? What about the WashU Police Department?

  • Henry

    Really? You interviewed an anonymous frat boy and got a lame response such as “Being in the company of a woman is something that most WashU males cherish – given that this is a rare occurrence”? And then printed it? Really? You can smell the BS oozing from quotation.

    That’s some hard-hitting reporting there. Glad you scored such a serious interview for a topic as serious as this.