Pubdate: Mon, 21 Nov 2005
Source: Community Press, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005 Community Press
Author: Kate Everson 	
Bookmark: (date rape)
Bookmark: (Women)


You can't smell it, taste it or see it, but this colourless liquid
called Gamma Hydroxybutyrate or GHB, is making the rounds at your
neighbourhood bar.

"It's very easy to slip this into someone's drink," said Elise Hineman
from the Sexual Assault Centre at a media lunch on November 17. The
victim may not even know she has been drugged, and wake up a few hours
later not realizing she has been raped.

"It is happening in this area very much," Elise added.

Susan Young, co-ordinator for the domestic violence and sexual assault
response program, said they have someone able to respond 24 hours a
day with a nurse and sexual assault worker but it is up to the victim
to report it.

"A lot of women don't want to talk to the police," Susan said. "They
think the police won't believe them."

She says a urine test has to be done within four to six hours to see
if the chemical was taken. A pilot project at seven hospitals is
putting aside a special laboratory to deal with these cases.

"There is a reluctance to seek help," Susan said. "Without proof, the
victim feels they may have done something wrong. Many feel it is their
fault and they feel ashamed."

Staff Sergeant Mike Graham from the Belleville Police said the message
he wants to get out is that date rape drugs are in Belleville. "We are
getting more calls every day," he said.

He added that many victims are unsure of what happened. "We will
believe you," he said. "We have seen enough."

Graham said prevention is the best approach. Go with a buddy to a bar
and make sure your open drink is not touched by anyone else. "Please
come forward," he said. "Allow us to have a chance to identify the
suspect. These people are predators. A predator could be anybody. It
could be a friend, a relative, or somebody else you know."

He said the GHB compound has been made locally and sold by two women
in Picton. It is paint thinner and lye. The ingredients are easy to
get, and are commonly used to "get high." But too much could also kill.

Public health nurse Erin Chesher of the Hastings and Prince Edward
Counties Health Unit said victims should report any unexplained
symptoms after drinking any beverage. "Call 9-1-1 or the sexual
assault crisis line at 967-6000 or go directly to an emergency room,"
she said. "It is very important to seek medical attention. Rape drugs
can have dangerous and sometimes life-threatening side effects,
especially when combined with alcohol."

It is estimated that over 80 per cent of women who are sexually
assaulted do not report it. The date rape drug can cause the victim to
black out and have amnesia for up to 24 hours.

One young victim told her story of how she was raped in a parking lot
in Belleville after being given the drug in a drink at a local bar.
Her friends encouraged her to go to the hospital.

"The sexual assault program was very helpful," she said. "I have begun
my journey of recovery. I don't feel ashamed any more. I feel strength
now and empowered."

She said she has taken up yoga and kick-boxing for fun and has started
dealing with her emotions more. "This gave me the opportunity to
reflect," she said. "Who do I want to be?"

She added an important part of the healing process is learning to
forgive, including yourself. "I have learned to love myself more," she

For more information call the Sexual Assault Centre at 967-6300 or the
Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Response Program at 969-0294 or the
Health Unit at 966-5513 ext. 259. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake