Posts Tagged Date Rape Drugs

3 Tips (and 1 Bonus Tip) to Enhance your Daughter’s Personal Safety on Campus

Although we like to think of our daughter’s years away at college as safe and idealistic, the reality is that her time at school puts her at risk.

RAINN, (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, reports that close to 1 in 6 college-aged women received assistance from a victim services agency.  They also report that a female college student is twice as likely to be sexually assaulted as robbed.  Please also bear in mind that 4 out of 5 students who were sexually assaulted do not report.

Enhancing your daughter’s campus safety, security, and survival is crucial.  The best way to do this is to educate and empower her with strategies (or “hacks”) she can use every day.

Although there is no 100% guaranteed blueprint for keeping our daughters safe, there are many empowering, yet simple, precautions we can teach them.

Of course, the cardinal rule is to always use the Buddy System.  They learned it in kindergarten, and it’s a classic for a reason.  You don’t stop using the Buddy System just because you turn 18 – in fact, it’s more important than ever, because the stakes become higher as our daughters leave the protection of parents and home.

These are 3 simple – but highly effective – strategies to enhance your daughter’s personal safety both on and off campus:

1. Headphones Are Off; Earbuds Are Put Away.

That means even if I can’t see you, I WILL HEAR YOU.  No exceptions when in public. Some argue that wearing headphones is a useful social signal that indicates they don’t want to talk.  A predator just sees an easier target.  We need the full range of all our senses at all times. Hearing is the most effective alert to when we’re being approached from behind.  Police remind us that 90% of surprise attacks are launched from closer than 15 feet behind an unaware person.

2. BYOB. (Beverage)

Bring your own beverage and pay attention to it.  Ideally, this will be in a reusable bottle with an attached lid.  This dramatically cuts down on opportunities for someone to tamper with or switch the drink.  Remember, most often it is someone with whom your daughter is acquainted,  or may even know well, who will attempt to spike her drink. Even ice could contain a predatory drug, such as GHB, which is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.  Have her bring her own bottle everywhere and protect it, all the time, just as she would her wallet.

3. Lock It Up, Lock It Down.

On university campuses, as in life, complacency sets in and people get lax about locking doors and windows.  This can be especially problematic in dormitories.  One person propping open a back door – even innocently, as a favor to a roommate, for example – puts everyone at risk. Unlocked windows are often an overlooked security risk, especially on the ground floor. If your daughter will be sharing off-campus housing, install a lock on her bedroom door.

While the risks of college life are real, don’t let fear drive your daughter’s university experience.  Instead, educate her with these and other tips for personal safety and security, and empower her for life.
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— Jennifer Kaminer, 28 Feb 2017

Related: The Clery Act and why you need to know.

Related:  Personal Safety Webinar for young Women in College

Stalking: Resource from John Carroll University 

Most Victims KNOW their attackers.

Date Rape drugs: GHB and Rohypnol

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Burundanga – Another Predatory Drug

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I recently received a warning about another predatory, or date rape, drug.

It was the account of a woman who was approached at a gas station by a man offering his painting services. She took his business card, got into her car and left the station. She states that the painter and a second man followed her.

She states that she immediately began to feel dizzy, could not catch her breath, and noticed a strong odor in the car. She apparently went a neighbor’s home and honked her horn for help – at which time she says the men following her drove away.

She noticed a substance on the business card.  Later, she went online and found that a drug called “burundanga” can be used to incapacitate victims after being absorbed through the skin.

This warning email was accompanied by a link to an article written by Stephen Pittel, PhD, a forensic expert and consultant’s site.

Doctor Pittel indeed describes Burundanga as “a potent form of scopalamine that has been used for decades in Columbia in native rituals, as a weapon and by criminals who prey on tourists.”

Doctors most commonly use scopolamine to treat nausea and motion sickness and often with a transdermal patch. Scopolamine can cause dizziness, drowsiness, and blurred vision even in lower doses.  In higher doses, it can cause delirium, unconsciousness and memory loss – three reasons it has been used as a predatory drug.  As with many substances, alcohol has a compounding effect!

Some authors state that in recent years, fifty percent of emergency room admission for poisoning in Columbia are due to overdoses of this agent.

Pitell and others note that the State Department has issued warnings to those traveling to South American countries to be aware of this potential threat, given the number of tourists who have been robbed after unknowingly ingesting burundanga.

Although this substance is absorbed through the skin, most sources seem to question if one can absorb a large enough dose transdermally from touching a card or travel brochure. The bigger threat is a large dose being put into a drink.

Whether or not the account of the tainted business card is accurate, and whether or not one can absorb enough of a transdermal agent to become incapacitated, is not the real issue.

  • This should remind us that we need to be cognizant of those around us any time we are out in public, and especially when at parties or functions. Any number of substances can be slipped into any beverage, or food for that matter, anywhere and at any time.

My recent blog entry recounts the tragic story of a couple who were robbed after being drugged by someone they befriended at a coffee shop while traveling in Europe.

Substances commonly used as predatory drugs  in the United States include Rohypnol, GHB and Ketamine. Even if you open your own sealed bottle of water or can of soda when out in public, be aware that these compounds can be mixed into the ice cubes that a “considerate” person may offer you!

Always watch your drink being prepared, even if it is a latte on a sunny day. Be wary of someone who prepares your drink below bar top level and out of sight. Also be wary of anyone who wants to keep pouring you alcoholic beverages at a party!  Remember, the most commonly used substance for predatory purposes, especially date or acquaintance rape, is alcohol!

Oftentimes a “cocktail” of different substances may be used to incapacitate the victim.

Opioid analgesics such as Oxycontin and hydrocodone, are anti-anxiety medications and muscle relaxants.  Although they are effective pain medications when used appropriately, they are quite dangerous when abused or combined.  Alcohol combined with these medications can result in death, as the victim gradually loses their urge to breathe, also knows as respiratory depression.

Obviously avoiding predatory drugs is paramount. If you are in a public setting or attending a function and do start to suddenly feel sleepy, disoriented and “out of it,” especially accompanied by loss of motor control, it is best to assume you have ingested a harmful agent and seek medical attention immediately.

Waiting to “see if I feel better” only robs you of precious time, time doctors will need to help you!

The most important thing to remember is to keep distance between yourself and strangers. You should always be wary of a stranger closing distance on you regardless of the stated reason, and especially when in an isolated environment! If you are followed, drive to a busy, well-lit area – or even a police or fire station – but not home, to a friend’s house, your place of work, or any location where your children will be.

  • Predatory Drugs are also addressed in our Travel Safety Training.
  • Please visit the Resources area of our site for more information on these and other topics
Related: 

What is Situational Awareness ?

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Student Safety: Want to host your own workshop?

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The majority our student safety workshops for Women at School and Men At School are privately hosted. We always customize content to best suit your needs.

Here’s how we go about it and we try and keep it simple:

  • Give us some dates and times that work for you. Most classes are held on weekday evenings and some on weekends. We are flexible and work around your schedule.
  • We charge $65 per son or daughter and mom attends at no additional fee
  • Additional siblings, $30 each
  • Our minimum is 12 paid for seats (24 including parents)
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Age: Ideally 14 and older
  • Content and duration customized to your needs
  • Desks or tables are preferable but not necessary
  • We need some space to practice the role playing packages included in these classes. About ten feet in depth and at least 15-20 across is adequate.
  • We bring the laptop and projector and just need a surface to project onto.
  • We carry  insurance to train at any venue. If our company will be paying for space at the venue of your choice this needs to be covered by increasing the minimum number of paid for attendees
  • A handout is included for reference after the training
  • Scholarship If you know of one young man or lady who cannot afford to attend the class you are organizing and you would like him/ her to be there, let us know and we will add him/her and mom to the sign in sheet and be glad to have them join us at no charge. Limit is one parent and child pair per class.
  • Mom (or Dad) why do we want you at the training  as well? -Anytime there is an ongoing dialog regarding information that is common to two or more people there is better retention and a greater probability that strategies discussed in class will actually be implemented. We also teach exercises to improve awareness of our surroundings which are more fun to do with someone who learned them with you rather than alone.

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Date Rape Drugs: Unintentional Ingestion and Tragedy

Ambulance Rushing

As the school year comes to a close we see the typical spike in requested safety trainings by parents especially for their daughters who will be traveling or soon off to college.

The “date rape” or “predatory” drugs are always an area of concern and we dedicate an entire module to this issue.

While we are all concerned about the malicious and intentional use of these drugs to incapacitate our daughters it is important to remember that these substances have and will continue to be inadvertently ingested in situations where there is no malicious intent, or intent at all for that matter.

I am reminded of the tragic death of a young woman in high school who attended a party several summers ago. A small party of people well known to one another and at which her and her friends were only drinking non alcoholic beverages .

At one point this young woman started to feel badly and her friends suggested she lay down on the couch. She did so but her condition did not improve. Her friends then took her home and attended to her as she rested. Not very long after arriving home the young lady stopped breathing and was dead by the time paramedics arrived.

A police investigation revealed that one of the young men who had hosted this small party had kept a large bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator to which he had added some GHB. He was sipping on this periodically to maintain his mild “buzz”. The young lady who had arrived at the party on a that hot summer day had gone to the refrigerator and poured a large glass of water for herself from that bottle and later died from, what for her, was a lethal dose of GHB.

The hard lesson learned from this tragedy is that one can easily ingest a dangerous substance even when in a situation where the substance was not intended to be shared or given to anyone else.

We remind our student to think outside the box and keep this tragic story in mind when next at a party or friends house and you reach for some bottled water. If that bottle is not sealed, you are better off drinking tap water.

The other lesson is that if you even just suspect that a friend may have ingested a drug or substance that is starting to effect them, rather be safe than sorry and get them medical attention immediately.

If someone has been drugged, even inadvertently, they need to be evaluated by a doctor. If it turns out to be a false alarm, well no harm in a false alarm. But if they do in fact have a large dose of a drug in them, immediate medical attention is critical and any time wasted getting this for them could be time that costs them their lives.

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Personal Safety: “Date Rape Drugs” Aren’t Only Used for Rape

Ripped from the headlines:

According to ABC News, a California couple vacationing in Italy were the victims of a heartless scam artist.

Apparently, the perpetrator struck up a conversation with them at a coffee shop and – after winning their trust – brought them each a cappuccino. Both cups were laced with drugs.

After being robbed, and obviously while heavily sedated, the male victim tragically was struck and killed by a train as he stumbled near some tracks. His wife was not hit by the train, and after being treated at a hospital in Rome, was released.

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It is very common for us to think in “context” or to categorize. We hear the words “date rape drug,”or hear about using drugs to victimize people, and we usually think about this in the context of a sexual assault against a woman or girl.  The fact is, date rape drugs aren’t only used for rape – they are used for other crimes, too.

  • In our travel safety class we cover the risks of such drugs being used to incapacitate unsuspecting folks, especially tourists, for the sake of crimes such as robbery.

We also talk about “trust building” as a means by which someone will gain your confidence, so that you categorize them as “friend” and not “foe” – so that the last thing you think is that this new “friend” would harm you.

“Trust building” combined with the malicious use of powerful drugs such as Rohypnol – which can be obtained with a prescription in Europe – can get anyone in trouble.

A big burly commercial pilot I know told me of an incident where he was on a layover in Japan. After just fifteen minutes in a very posh bar in a swanky part of Tokyo, he began to feel light-headed and “out of it.” He immediately realized what was going on and walked the short distance to his hotel and the safety of his room just before he passed out cold.

In the case of the couple in Rome, the robber brought the coffees to his victims, giving him the opportunity to slip in the drugs. In the pilot’s case, he felt the drug was put in his drink behind the bar before it was given to him.

You can never be too careful.

– Larry Kaminer

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