Family Support tackles date-rape drugs | RecordCourier.com

Family Support tackles date-rape drugs

by Sheila Gardner

The Family Support Council is offering training to owners and employees of bars and restaurants on how to recognize whether their customers may have be been slipped harmful narcotics known as date-rape drugs.

Orita Keebaugh, a domestic violence and sexual assault caseworker, said in the past months that she and her colleagues have noticed an alarming rise in the number of women who had reported sexual assaults preceded by the apparent ingestion of what they believed to be inexpensive drugs.

“You can buy them on the street at about the same cost as a high-end drink,” Keebaugh said. “For about $10, you usually can get two doses.”

She said the drugs include Rohypnol, GHB (gamma hydroxybutyric acid), Ketamine, Oxycontin and Ecstasy.

“We’re educating all the bartenders and drink servers in Douglas County on their names, street names and the forms they come in whether liquid or pills and the symptoms of each drug,” Keebaugh said.

Keebaugh said six date-rape cases had been reported to the Family Support Council since September.

“Most people think of them as a problem in larger cities, and that’s true. But we’ve already had numerous cases in Douglas County, not only at the Lake, but at several bars in this area,” Keebaugh said.

By training bartenders and drink servers, Keebaugh said caseworkers hope to prevent the incident.

“We are making it very clear to these people that as drink servers or employers, that they are in no way responsible for date rapes in any shape or form. It’s the education we’re going for,” she said.

“If you have an individual come in you don’t know who sits down next to somebody and you know you’ve served that woman maybe one or two drinks and she starts slurring her speech, acting confused or drowsy in an hypnotic state, you have an awareness with you. That gives you an opportunity to walk up to the victim and say, ‘How are you doing tonight?’ You can address the situation right away,” she said.

Indications someone may have been slipped a date-rape drug include if the victim can’t remember what happened after she’d been drinking and if she feels like someone has had sex with her without her consent.

Other signs, Keebaugh said, are if the woman awakes feeling very hung over, intoxicated, paralyzed or nauseous.

Keebaugh said it can be challenging to get women to report date rape because the cases can be difficult to prove, or the victim feels responsible.

“These drugs don’t stay in the system for more than six or eight hours,” she said.

By the time the victim is alert enough to seek medical treatment, the drug may not show up in her system.

“She may be all torn up, and even if the perpetrator is known, all he has to do is claim it was consensual sex and she wanted it rough,” Keebaugh said.

“These drugs make the actions of the victims appear voluntary,” Keebaugh said. “Under their influence, it feels really good to be touched or to touch. There are instances where people see them leaving together and touching each other, doing all this stuff that makes it appear consensual.”

Keebaugh said the awareness training takes 20-30 minutes and Family Support Council caseworkers will bring the program to restaurants.

“At the end of the training, we present the bar with a certificate indicating they have been through drug training awareness. Bars will be placing these certificates in a spot where everybody can see it,” she said.

Keebaugh said she appreciated the establishments that had participated.

“We’re really proud of these guys and gals who want us to come in,” she said. “These bartenders are looking out and protecting their customers. As a woman in a county I know is having problems, I would be more inclined to give my business to an establishment that has one of these certificates posted.”

Leslie Barone, co-owner of the recently-opened Barone and Reed in Minden, said the restaurant was happy to participate even though the establishment is a restaurant more than a bar.

“Constant vigilance is one of the responsibilities of serving alcohol,” Barone said. “People need to be careful what they drink and how they drink it. It never hurts to become educated on anything that might happen.”

Anyone who wishes to schedule training can contact Keebaugh at the Family Support Council, 782-8692.

DETAILS

Family Support Council caseworkers say education is the best way to prevent date rape.

“Limit you consumption,” said Orita Keebaugh.

— Don’t mix drinks

— Make arrangements to leave with a friend. “Whether this is the most handsome man in the world, make sure your friend doesn’t leave with him,” she said.

— Never leave drinks unattended

— Always report rapes and attempted rapes

The Family Support Council operates a 24-hour crisis line at 782-8692.