Pubdate: Tue, 17 Oct 2006
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Dana Brown
Bookmark: (date rape)


Bar Patron Could Carry Drink Into Hall, Restroom

Kristin thinks someone slipped something into her drink but she's not

The 19-year-old McMaster student was at a bar in Toronto during the
summer when she began feeling dizzy and blacked out after just one

"I have no other explanation for what happened," she said. "It's never
happened to me before."

It's not uncommon for women who have been slipped a drug to wonder if
it's really happened to them. Even when they carry a drink all night
- -- as Kristin did -- there's still the possibility of something being
dropped in.

Yesterday, the Ontario government proposed changes to the Liquor
Licence Act, one of which will allow patrons to carry their drinks
into hallways and washrooms in bars. The idea is that a drink kept in
sight is a drink less likely to be tampered with.

Krista Warnke, public education co-ordinator for the Sexual Assault
Centre, said the step is a move in the right direction, as long as
people don't begin thinking they ultimately have control over whether
or not they're drugged.

"My initial thought is that whatever additional options we give women
is good."

The symptoms of being drugged, which can include dizziness, fatigue,
slurred speech, trouble walking and sometimes memory loss, can make it
difficult for victims to tell if something's happened to them. Many
just have a gut instinct something's wrong, Warnke said.

In addition to being slipped much-publicized drugs such as ketamine
and gammahydroxybutyrate (GHB), victims are also being hit with stuff
straight out of the medicine cabinet, such as Gravol and cough syrup.
In combination with alcohol, the every-day medications can impair a
person's judgment and make them susceptible to an assault.

Kristin was lucky. After she blacked out, she left the bar with a
friend and got home safely. But the Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence
Care Centre in Hamilton says the number of reported drug-facilitated
sexual assaults has been on the rise. In 2004, 18 per cent of the
centre's clients said they were victims of drug-facilitated sexual
assaults. In 2005, that number rose to 24 per cent. So far this year,
20 per cent of the centre's clients have reported a sexual assault
facilitated by drugs.

Rape drugs 101

Main drugs: Ketamine or "Special K"; Gammahydroxybutyrate or GHB or
"Liquid Ecstasy"; Rohypnol or "roofies" (not legal in Canada); Ecstasy

Effects: The drugs affect the central nervous system, but the way
they affect an individual depends on several factors. Those include
age, body size, the amount of food eaten that day and the amount of
the drug taken.

Symptoms: They vary with each drug, but can include fatigue,
dizziness, loss of motion control, unconsciousness and memory loss.

Protecting yourself: Always keep an eye on your drink, notice when a
friend is acting strange, and have a plan to get home or to get help
if needed.
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