Program focused on sexual assault prevention

Stephen Gilson Jr.
Staff Writer

The Honors Program hosted a date rape drugs information session on Nov. 17 in the Campus Center, where survivors discussed their experiences and the effect it has had on their lives.

Members from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, or RAINN,  spoke about the different types of drugs people use to lower the guard of potential victims and discussed different strategies to prevent drink spiking. Speakers also provided information on how to access resources to address post-traumatic stress.

Junior economics major Natalia Viera, junior legal studies major Isela Chavez, senior criminology major Litzy Silvia, junior psychology major Emily Quirarte, and senior psychology major Britnee Pham all decided on the topic of date rape drugs for the information session because all of them have experienced being warned about going out for the night, being told to go out in groups and to make sure everybody is watching each others’ backs.

The group said they have been warned not to leave any food or drink unguarded when they are out – to take them along to the restroom as necessary. 

“We have heard of all the reasons in the world to pay attention to our drinks, but nobody has told us about what drugs go into victim’s drinks, what a tampered drink looks like, or what to do if I have consumed a tampered drink,” Viera said. “We wanted to get more specific in our project and bring more awareness to the issue.” 

Lindsey Stanley, a representative for RAINN, gave a Zoom presentation of different drugs, like gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, better known as GHB or “liquid ecstasy,” and Rohypnol, better known as “roofies.” Stanley spoke about different ways to detect these drugs and how manufacturers are doing their best to ensure their drugs are not used improperly or for malicious reasons. Rohypnol is a white or olive green pill that turns blue when dissolved into a liquid. Stanley showed some designs for nail polish and a small electronic device that users could dip into their drinks to test for the presence of drugs.

According to RAINN, 94% of women who have been assaulted report having symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder two weeks after their assault, and 13% percent of women who have been sexually assaulted have attempted suicide after the assault. 

It is imperative that survivors seek needed support as soon as possible after an assault. 

Elleni Koulos, director of counseling and psychological services at the University, said the University offers free counseling services for anybody who needs emotional support. 

CAPS is also a confidential resource, meaning no report will be made without permission from the therapy recipient. For cases of unwanted sexual contact, Koulos said students can contact the Title IX office and go through any steps necessary to deal with trauma or to start a legal process to hold the attacker accountable. 

“Getting educated in self-defense martial arts like taekwondo and karate is a good way to learn non-lethal self defense skills,” Laura Avalos, assistant director of Campus Safety, said. “Anything could be used for self-defense – blunt objects like a purse or phone or pointed items like a pin can be helpful as well.”

If you or someone you know has experienced a sexual assault, contact the confidential RAINN hotline by phone at 800-656-4673, or by online chat at online.rainn.org. For on-campus confidential psychological services, contact CAPS by phone at 909-448-4105 or email caps@laverne.edu.                 

Stephen Gilson Jr. can be reached at stephen.gilson@laverne.edu.           

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Stephen Gilson Jr. is a sophomore journalism major with a concentration in broadcast journalism. He played baseball and football in high school and is an avid sports enthusiast.

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