TEEN HEALTH Published July15, 2019 By Hannah Smith

What Parents and Teens Need to Know About Date Rape

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It's a topic that no parent wants to think about, but it happens more than you think: date rape. Although most parents and teens have heard the term, many are unsure of what it means and what constitutes date rape.

What is Date Rape?

Date rape generally refers to rape or sexual assault in which the attacker and victim knew each other, were acquainted in some way or were dating each other.

Although drugs and alcohol are not always a part of the situation, perpetrators may use certain drugs or an excessive amount of alcohol to render the victim unconscious.

The term DFSA (drug-facilitated sexual assault) is typically used to describe a situation where the perpetrator intentionally gave the victim drugs or alcohol or takes advantage of the victim's intoxicated state in order to force sexual contact.

Common Date Rape Drugs

"Date rape drugs have sedative properties that cause victims to experience unconsciousness and amnesia," says Keller Law Offices. "Most drugs are odorless, tasteless, and colorless and dissolve easily in alcohol and other beverages within 30 minutes."

There are at least 20 different drugs used in DFSA cases, but the most common ones include:

  • Ketamine: A fast-acting dissociative drug that's also used as a general surgical anesthetic. People who are drugged with ketamine will be aware of what's happening, but won't be able to move.
  • Rohypnol: Better known as "roofies." This drug has a strong sedative effect that can cause loss of motor control, amnesia and lack of coordination. Effects can be felt within 30 minutes and last several hours.
  • Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB): An extremely potent sedative. The effects can be felt within 15 minutes and last up to four hours.
  • Ambien: A quick-acting, hypnotic drug that's used to treat insomnia. Ambien can cause confusion and/or amnesia.

Mixing any of these drugs with alcohol can compound the effects and, in some cases, result in serious health complications or even death.

It's important to note that alcohol isn't always involved in date rape cases. Many of these drugs can be slipped into water and soda, and have the same effects.

Talking to Teens About Date Rape

As a parent, you do everything you can to keep your children safe. As children reach their teenage years, they gain more independence, and it becomes more difficult to keep a close eye on them or control their actions.

There is no surefire way to prevent sexual assault, but there are strategies you can discuss and lessons you can pass on.

Make sure that your teen understands that no one has the right to touch them in ways that make them feel uncomfortable or uneasy - and that includes family members.

Know the people in your teen's life, including teachers, coaches, friends and other parents. These are the people your teen will be spending the most time with, so make sure that you know them and are acquainted with them.

While it's an uncomfortable topic to discuss, it's important to talk to your teens about sexual assault in a direct and honest way so that they may make smarter decisions or feel comfortable coming to you if they have such an experience.

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