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Drug-Facilitated Rape: Looking for the Missing Pieces

NCJ Number
National Institute of Justice Journal Dated: April 2000 Pages: 8-15
Date Published
April 2000
8 pages
Publication Series
This article summarizes findings on drug-facilitated rape obtained by researchers at the U.S. Department of Justice in response to a request from the Attorney General for more information about this new phenomenon.
Sexual assault victims who believe drugs were surreptitiously given to them typically report remembering sensations of drunkenness that do not correspond with the amounts of alcohol consumed, unexplained gaps in memory, altered levels of consciousness, and unexplainable signs of physical trauma. The most commonly implicated drugs are Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) and GHB. The prevalence of drug-facilitated rape is unknown, because today's research tools do not provide a means of measuring the number of incidents; however, recent findings from ethnographic research and school-based surveys can provide insight into the voluntary use of these drugs. Such research makes it clear that the risk of drug-facilitated rape is real. Since reports of drug-facilitated rape first started appearing, policymakers at the Federal level have acted to address the situation. One step has been to improve enforcement at the U.S.-Mexican border of the ban on the importation of flunitrazepam. The Office for Victims of Crime is currently providing training and technical assistance for a model program designed to promote promising practices in sexual assault medical evidentiary exams. The program, which promotes the use of specially trained sexual assault nurse examiners, has developed a guide that addresses the issues of drug-facilitated rape, with specific information and guidance regarding comprehensive drug testing and an exam protocol. Practices and strategies to reduce sexual assault may help reduce drug-facilitated sexual assault, but there are unique aspects to drug-facilitated rape that demand tailored strategies. These pertain to the environment within which the crime occurs, the education of targeted audiences, and investigation policies (interviewing techniques, urine specimen, crime scene evidence, and rape evidence kits). Future plans for addressing this crime are discussed. 9 notes and a 7-item bibliography

Date Published: April 1, 2000