Beware the date-rape drug

When Linda awoke the next day in only her panties, she had no memory of how she got into the bed she was sleeping in.

By KARIN KLOOSTERMAN
October 27, 2005 12:51
drugs feat metro 88

drugs feat metro 88. (photo credit: )

 
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The night started before the witching hour on June 27, at a pub where Linda (not her real name) was singing some Israeli folksongs with a girlfriend, a few older male acquaintances, and a glass of wine. The last thing Linda can remember is saying goodbye to her girlfriend and then tasting from a plate of cheese "ordered especially for me." When she awoke the next day in only her panties, she had no memory of how she got into the bed she was sleeping in. She only knew that she had been raped. Although it sounds like the makings of an urban legend, Linda is certain that she was drugged with an odorless, tasteless, and traceless drug called GHB, better known as the "date rape" drug. When her girlfriend had invited her to join some others at a small pub on Rehov Carlebach in Tel Aviv for some drinks a few months ago, she had no reason to suspect that the night could go awry: Her children were at friends' for the night and the people she was to meet, though the men were substantially older, were familiar to her. What's more, Linda had a boyfriend. By the time Linda's girlfriend left at 2:30 a.m. - still early for Tel Aviv night revelers - she decided to stay on and continue singing songs with a few of the men, whom she describes as having high social standing in the community. Though her memory is blank as to how she wound up in the bed of sixty-something "Alex," the pretty 40-year-old mother of four is certain that the three glasses of wine she drank were not enough to leave her intoxicated beyond control, let alone rob her memory and entice her into the bed of someone she considered physically unattractive. A recent immigrant from western Europe, Linda told Metro that she is used to drinking wine socially and knows that something very wrong happened to her that night - something that she cannot remember and cannot prove. When she woke in the morning, Linda knew she had to flee. "Apparently, what my mind doesn't remember, my body does," she says. Moments after waking, she scurried around for her clothing and jumped into a cab. Later that day, her girlfriend had called explaining in explicit detail what had happened at Alex's apartment the night before, since Alex and his friends had been bragging about it to her. Three men were present and Shai (not his real name) had had sex with Linda while Alex and a third man watched. Linda's face turned white as she heard detailed accounts of what "she" had done. At that moment, Linda's boyfriend insisted that they go to the police. When brought in for questioning, the three men and Linda's girlfriend denied having any knowledge of what had happened at Alex's apartment. At least one of the men, Linda explains, had a wife and career that couldn't be compromised. Linda was in a quagmire. It would be her word against everyone else's. Her story is not entirely unique. More and more Israeli women are coming forward to the authorities with similar stories: finding themselves with temporary amnesia and evidence or the feeling of having been sexually assaulted. The siege of 173 liters of GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) from a makeshift lab in a Tel Aviv apartment last month is probably not a casual coincidence. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, GHB comes in several forms: a liquid with no odor or color; white powder; or a pill. It has no taste and can be easily added to flavored drinks without the victim's knowledge. The drug is untraceable after about 12 hours, which is the time it takes to be broken down by the body. The power of the drug is that it erases the victim's memory while at the same time lowering inhibitions, making it difficult to trace or prove when a sexual assault has been committed. Though some people may be using GHB for strange and short-lived personal highs, the uses against women for sexual coercion are becoming well documented. Proliferation of such drugs is becoming more widespread as the Internet is making possible the spread of do-it-yourself recipes at home. Chemicals, some websites report, are easily obtained and relatively accessible in the Western world. The men in Linda's story may be using the fact that Linda cannot remember a thing as evidence against her. Linda says that at the police station in Jaffa, she was made to feel guilty by the police officers rather than being recognized as a victim. Although police reports were filed and the three men were brought to the station for questioning, nothing could be proved and no charges were laid. Around that time, Linda sent her underwear for laboratory testing. She has yet to hear from the police about the test results. Any suggestion about presenting her case to lawyers or going public with what happened is a stressful proposition for Linda, who is concerned about the future of her sons. She thinks they may be violently protective of their mother who, like many new immigrants, is working hard to build her life in Israel. Says Linda, "I just want every woman, young and not so young, to be aware that unsolicited drug abuse is happening, and is not restricted to young people and discotheques." As a new immigrant with no family in the country, it has been difficult for her to carry this newfound emotional baggage alone. Even her stressful experiences as a single mother of four in a new country did not prepare her for the stress of this recent experience. "In this case, I am dealing with something completely different. I do not know what exactly happened… but my body is clearly remembering." It is also important for Linda that she send a message to the police that they take into consideration during any formal complaint the possibly that women are being drugged in Tel Aviv (and throughout Israel) into having sex. She urges police to be sensitive about how they talk with women "because the fact that something like this happened to me was humiliating enough." Today she is slowly trying to build a sense of normalcy in her life and hopes that the men who "did this to me will never forget… and that their conscience will keep reminding them of what they did to me." If you think you may have been a victim of a date rape drug, take the following steps: *Don't bathe or change clothes before getting help. *Go to a police station or hospital right away. *Get a urine test as soon as possible. Israel's National Rape Hotline: 1202

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