In the early 1990s reports began to circulate about the increasing use of Rohypnol (roh-HIP-nol) to facilitate sexual conquest or to incapacitate victims who are then sex­ually molested or raped (Daly, 2011; Staten, 1997). Rohypnol, commonly known on the street as "roofies," is the brand name for flunitrazepam, a powerful tranquil­izer that has a sedative effect 7 to 10 times more potent than that of Valium. In addition to producing a sedative effect in 20 to 30 minutes that can last for sev­eral hours, Rohypnol causes muscle relaxation and mild to pronounced amnesia (Romeo, 2004). Rohypnol is odorless and is excreted from the victim’s system in a relatively short time, making discovery and prosecution of rapists who use this drug difficult. Many cases have emerged in which women were raped after their dates had given them the drug surreptitiously—hence the term date rape drug. When combined with alcohol, the drug’s effects are greatly enhanced and can result in a dramatic "high," markedly reduced inhibitions, unconsciousness, and total amnesia concerning events that occur while a person is under its influence.

In an effort to counter the negative image of Rohypnol as a date rape drug, the manufacturer, Roche Pharmaceuticals, has changed the color and formulation of this drug. The result is a pill that is more difficult to dissolve and that produces a blue solution when dissolved (Olsen et al., 2005). In addition, recently developed labora­tory procedures have made it easy to detect this reformulated drug in drinks spiked to accomplish date rape (Olsen et al., 2005).

YOUR SEXUAL

HEALTH

Although rape is a society-wide problem, it is the rape victim who experiences the direct, personal violation. The suggestions offered in the following lists present strategies for reducing the risk of acquaintance rape and for avoiding stranger rape. However, following these suggestions offers no guarantee of avoiding rape. Even a woman who leads an extremely cautious and restricted life can be assaulted. Rape prevention consists primarily of making it as difficult as possible for a rapist to victimize you. Many of the follow­ing suggestions are commonsense measures against other crimes besides rape.