Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault
Drug-facilitated sexual assault refers to situations in which alcohol or other drugs are used to make impossible/impair a person’s ability to consent to sexual activity. These substances, such as anti-anxiety medication, sleep medication, tranquilizers, and Rohypnol (“roofies”), inhibit a person’s ability to give consent and can cause a gap in memory. These drugs are often referred to as “date-rape drugs.” Despite the name, perpetrators don’t have to be dates, but can be friends, total strangers, or anyone else.
Common symptoms of a drug-facilitated sexual assault include:
Feeling drunk when you’ve consumed no or very little alcohol
Loss of bowel or bladder control
Sudden body temperature change (look for sweating or chattering teeth)
Sudden dizziness, disorientation, or blurred vision
Waking up with no memory or large gaps in memory
Remembering the assault, but being unable to move or speak during it
If you see someone who you think may have been drugged, remember the five D’s of how to be a pro-social bystander: Direct, Distract, Distance, Delegate, Document. Try using one or more of these techniques to get the person someplace safe(r). Consider getting medical help, especially if they lose conciousness. Make sure they are not left alone.
In Spring 2020, the Brandeis Student Union sponsored the purchase of Sip Chips to be available to any Brandeis student free of cost. Sip Chips are a one-time use "date-rape" drug testing device approximately the size of a quarter. Currently, Sip Chips test for Flunitrazepam (“Roofies”), Alprazolam (Xanax), Diazepam (Valium), Midazolam (Versed), Oxazepam (Serax), and Temazepam (Restoril).
To use a Sip Chip, peel off the protective foil and place one drop of your drink on the chip. Wait at least 30 seconds and up to 3 minutes for a line or lines to appear.
- One line means your drink is spiked.
- Two lines mean your drink is ok.
For more about Sip Chips, how they work, and frequently asked questions, we encourage you to look at their website. You can pick up Sip Chips in the PARC office (Usdan), any Quad Office, the Health Center, the Gender and Sexuality Center (Usdan), the Intercultural Center (Swig Hal), the Student Sexuality Information Service (SSIS) office in SCC 328, and the Student Union Office.
A note from PARC:
In our work, there are many valid critiques of tools like Sip Chip. Violence prevention that puts the burden on individuals to prevent violence from happening to them supports victim-blaming culture. Another critique is that it can create a false sense of security for individuals. For example, a drink could be tested and come out with negative results based on the substances it tests, but it could contain other substances that could incapacitate the person. These critiques are important to acknowledge because it is never someone's fault for experiencing violence no matter what tools they choose to use or not use. It is always the perpetrator's fault.
PARC supports the use of any tool to help someone feel safer and more protected against violence, but want to stress the most important tools for violence prevention: ourselves and each other. Being a pro-social bystander and holding our friends and other community members accountable for violent behaviors is our best strategy for preventing sexual assault and other types of violence. It is crucial that we work to foster environments where behaviors like spiking someone's drink is unacceptable and unheard of.
Testing for Date Rape Drugs
It is possible to test your urine for presence of drugs, but the test must be done very soon after ingesting the drugs. It is ideal for the first urine after the assault to be stored in a clean container, as the likelihood of detecting drugs used in the assault decreases each time you urinate. If you do have a urine toxicology test performed, getting a negative result does not necessarily mean you were not drugged. For this test, we recommend one of these two options:
- A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) exam at the hospital. As part of the evidence collection process, a urine test can be performed. The closest SANE location to Brandeis is Newton-Wellesley hospital. For more information about SANE Exams, click here.
- The on-campus health center is not able to perform urinalysis testing for common drug-facilitated sexual assault drugs, but you can go to the Quest Diagnostis Lab in Waltham. Your insurance may or may not cover these tests, but PARC can help pay any costs not covered as well as help with transportation costs if you need.
If you or someone you know is considering getting tested for "date-rape" drugs, an advocate on the PARC hotline is always available to help you discuss your options.