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

L Moore | 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.

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