The Drugs Used in Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

To better understand what Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault is and the drugs that would be involved in a sexual assault, it is best to define what a Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault is. Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault (DFSA) occurs when a suspect (male or female) uses an anesthesia type drug, with the victim’s knowledge or without, which renders the victim physically helpless or incapacitated and they cannot give consent. When she is in a state of helplessness, the suspect then sexually assaults her.

Drug facilitated sexual assault has been happening for more than a century. But, with the advent of the internet, there has never been as much information on drugs so widely available to anyone looking for it. There are websites dedicated to letting potential suspects know how much of a specific drug to give a female (or in some cases, a male) per kilogram of body weight. With this information in hand, the drug facilitated rapist can give the exact amount of drug without fear of overdosing the victim, but still keeping her (or him) unconscious while they commit one of the most heinous acts imaginable.

In a 2006 study from the University of Illinois, researchers found that 62% of all rapes were drug related. In that same study, researchers found that only 5% of the rapes used “classic” date rape drugs like Rohypnol or GHB.

Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault
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The Drugs Used in Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

But, what drugs are being used to commit these rapes? If you ask the press, it is Rohypnol and GHB (both CNS Depressants). However, alcohol is the most popular drug to facilitate rape. If it’s not alcohol, the suspect will use whatever drug they have available to them at that moment. If the suspect has a prescription for valium, then more than likely he will use that prescribed valium to help knock out his victim. Think about it; he is intimately familiar with that drug and has it readily available. If your suspect is addicted to opiate medications, he will use his prescribed medication. If he is an abuser of heroin, expect him to use that drug.

However, what other drugs will be used? The drugs used to commit these rapes will more than likely come from the CNS Depressant category of drugs or Opiates. CNS Depressant drugs are drugs that lower the body’s vitals and relaxes the muscles. Opiates also do that in addition to killing pain. The CNS Depressant drugs used can include many commonly prescribed drugs like Valium, Soma or Klonopin. Common opiates that can be used include Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco, Lortab) or Oxycodone. I have seen heroin used in the past. As an example, two heroin addicts got together to get high, but the suspect gave the victim more heroin that she was used to. The suspect committed the rape when the victim went “on the nod”. Heroin addicts who are “on the nod” look as if they are asleep and can be easily taken advantage of.

On rarer occasions, suspects may use Dissociative Anesthetics like Ketamine or DXM. Drugs in this category have similar signs and symptoms of PCP. By giving a victim Ketamine, the victim will have heavy sedation and can become unmoving and unable to give consent or fight of their attacker.

GHB and Rohypnol

Although GHB and Rohypnol are not the most popular drugs to use in a DFSA, they are still used by suspects that have done research on DFSA. GHB is clear, colorless and odorless and has a slightly salty taste. Often times, suspects will mix GHB with a fruity alcoholic drink to mask the taste. With as little as a water bottle capful causing intoxication similar to a .20 BAC, it is quite effective at causing quick intoxication for the rapist. The victim can have amnesia and may not remember the sexual assault.

Rohypnol is also a CNS Depressant, but is not legally prescribed in the US. Often, suspects will go to Mexico to a Pharmacia and buy Rohypnol and bring it back across the border. Rohypnol is very powerful and comes in pill form. The rapist will crush the pill and mix it with a drink and give it to the victim. The victim can be sedated for up to 12 hours with no memory of what occurred.

Victims Using Drugs Voluntarily

Victims may not always be given these drugs surreptitiously.  Many times, victims get together with the suspects to “party”. The victim may think they are taking drugs like ecstasy (MDMA) voluntarily, but the suspect is actually giving them an opiate type drug or a CNS Depressant with the intention of raping them. After the victim takes what they think is ecstasy, they succumb to the affects of the actual drug given them and the suspect commits the DFSA.

Other times, the suspect and the victim are taking a drug together that the suspect knows would be good to facilitate a rape. Here, the suspect is taking advantage of the situation.

It’s important to note that even though the victim is voluntarily taking drugs and those drugs may be illegal, it does not negate the illegality of the rape that occurs. It is important to know that the suspect is still a predator and will continue these actions unless he is stopped.

Drugs Used to Damage the Victim’s Credibility

Another aspect of drug facilitated rapes is the suspect’s use of street drugs. Oftentimes, the suspect may give the victim cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA or some other illegal drug so that the victim will test positive for that drug during the toxicological examination. The suspect’s main intention is to damage the victim’s credibility during the investigation to make him or her look like a partier that was doing illegal drugs when the rape was committed.

The suspect may also give the victim a drug like cocaine to make the victim “more lively” while committing the rape. Cocaine is a short acting drug. Cocaine lasts anywhere from 10 to 90 minutes when used, depending on the person’s tolerance as well as the method of ingestion. Usually, the victim will be unconscious, so the suspect will inject cocaine into the victim. The suspect will use the same method as a cocaine addict would use to shoot up the drug. This will make the victim “come alive” so that he is not assaulting a “limp noodle”. At the same time, the suspect knows that the victim will test positive for cocaine damaging her credibility.

They take away from this is that if the victim tells you she did not take any drugs voluntarily, but tests positive for drugs not commonly used in a DFSA, she may very well be telling the truth.

Drug Facilitated Sexual Assaults are complex investigations that take an experienced investigator to handle. It’s important to understand current drug trends and it is equally important to involve a drug expert in the investigation. Most importantly, we need to keep up with these drug trends so that we can bring justice for the victim.

Author: Keith Graves
Keith is a retired Police Sergeant and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area for 29 years. Keith was named as California’s Narcotics Officer of the Year and is a prior winner of MADD’s California Hero Award. He has years of experience as a Narcotics Detective and a Narcotics Unit Supervisor and is a Drug Recognition Expert Instructor (IACP #3292). Keith teaches both the DRE course and the Drug Abuse Recognition Course and has taught at the Police Academy. He has developed several drug courses for the California Narcotics Officers Association, California POST and California Colleges and currently consults POST on drug investigation procedures. Keith has held other assignments besides narcotics including Training Sergeant, Patrol Sergeant, COPPS Officer, Traffic Officer, and 20 years as a SWAT Team member and Sniper Team Leader. Keith has taught thousands of officers and businesses around the world about drug use, drug trends, compliance training and drug investigations. He is recognized as an international drug expert and has testified as an expert in court proceedings on drug cases, homicide cases and rape prosecutions. Keith earned a BA in Business Management from Saint Mary's College of California and a MA in Criminal Justice. Keith is the Founder and President of Graves & Associates, a company dedicated to providing drug training to law enforcement and private industry.

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