Date rape drug use on the rise

Increase in sexual assaults linked to date rape drugs reported at Queen’s, says HCDS director

Kim Purton, community education co-ordinator at Sexual Assault Centre Kingston, says alcohol is the most common date-rape drug.
Kim Purton, community education co-ordinator at Sexual Assault Centre Kingston, says alcohol is the most common date-rape drug.
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Director of Health, Counselling and Disability Services Mike Condra said he has seen a rise in the number of sexual assaults linked to date-rape drugs reported to HCDS in the past year.

“This is a problem we have been aware of for quite a number of years both locally and from other educational institutions,” he said. “We try to make sure we are as aware as possible of trends linked to sexual assault.” Condra said the use of date-rape drugs is on the rise due to their public nature.

“More publicity surrounding the availability of those drugs [encourages] people to find and use them,” he said. “They are more widely known about.” Condra said the main goal of HCDS is to warn students of this dangerous substance and its effects.

“Our main goal is education. We have health educators who provide health education for students on topics that are relevant,” he said. “They have run awareness campaigns which have included posters to make students aware.” HCDS aims to support victims in a variety of different ways, Condra said. Students who require medical attention will be seen by a physician or nurse, and counsellors are available to support students. HCDS refers assaulted students to Sexual Assault Centre Kingston to benefit from their many programs.

“[At HCDS] we will provide them with as much support as they need, both emotional and medical,” he said.

Condra said the two services need to partner to continue to spread awareness about sexual assault.

“Men and women need to remind themselves how important consent is,” he said. “Sexual assault is a horrible violation of a person’s right to consent.” Kim Purton, community education co-ordinator at the Sexual Assault Centre Kingston, said she’s aware of the rise in date-rapes reported in Kingston and primarily at Queen’s.

“We’re getting a lot more referrals [from Kingston General Hospital] in regards to women from university who had experienced an assault they don’t remember.” The centre offers free counselling for assault and abuse victims.

While it’s common knowledge that alcohol is the most common date-rape drug—Purton said 90 per cent of campus assaults involve alcohol—she said she has also seen a rise in the use of makeshift drugs, including common prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

“Gravol and Benadryl mixed with alcohol is a date-rape drug,” she said. “They depress your central nervous system.”

She said Rohypnol isn’t seen often in Canada but is more prevalent in Mexico, where the drug is legal.

“GHB can be made at home. Ketamine, or Special K, is used at vet offices as a tranquilizer.” She added that the rise in reported date rapes could be just that—an increase in the number of women who are reporting their assault compared to past numbers.

“Only six per cent of all sexual assault gets reported,” she said. “People might feel more comfortable coming forward.”

Finding help

If you’ve been the victim of a sexual assault, KGH has a Sexual Assault program on-site to provide examinations within 72 hours of
the assault:

• Sexual Assault Centre Kingston offers free counselling to victims of sexual assault

• Reporting a sexual assault to the police is optional and having an examination at KGH does not require a police report

• Sexual Assault Centre Kingston crisis line: (613) 544-6424

• Sexual Assault Centre Kingston office line: (613) 545-0762

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