Woman recounts date-rape horror story

Nadya Bell
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Slipping drugs into drinks to facilitate sexual assault is becoming so common that it is affecting teenagers, university students, mothers, and women in their 50s. Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

St. John's - Women say the use of so-called date rape drugs is becoming rampant in Newfoundland, yet the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary says the crime is so difficult to prove, it's rare to convict someone of it.
Even women you'd wouldn't expect to hear from have horror stories.
Jennifer - who asked that her real name not be used - is a single woman in her mid-thirties with a young son. She is trained as a licensed practical nurse, works at Eastern Health and has a blue-stripe belt in taekwondo.
She was invited to a house party by someone she hadn't seen since high school, and didn't expect someone to slip something into her glass of white wine.
"I've never had a hangover - I don't know what it's like. For me to blackout like that, it's not me. I remember waking up 6:30 in the morning with a bad headache and thirsty, and I don't remember when I got naked. There was bruises all across my chest," she says.
"I remember odds and ends, it's like jagged edges. You're trying to put together the jigsaw puzzle but there's so many pieces missing. And certain images are the ones that keep coming back."
It happened on a mid-August evening this summer, but even as she speaks, she remembers more of what happened for the first time.
Jennifer says everyone else had left the party when she started feeling strange.
"I remember I was getting drowsy, and I laid down on his couch downstairs, and he brought me down a blanket, and shortly after that, that's when it started."
"I remember saying 'No,' I remember saying 'Stop,' I remember saying, 'That hurts!' I believe it was his hands groping me," she says.
The flashes from the camera he used to take pictures of her naked stand out clearly in her memory, she says.
"And then I just remember, you know how you're walking upstairs, and how you're kind of crawl-walking on your hands and knees, I remember I was doing that and I know he was behind me taking pictures," she says.
"Then there was, when you're lying across the bed, and you know when your head is half-off, half-on (the bed), and I can't get this image out of my head for the life of me, but I'm sure he was taking pictures of me down there," she says.
Confused and disoriented, Jennifer says she wasn't thinking clearly after the incident, and did not go to the doctor and the police until several days later.
"I still feel like an idiot and embarrassed. I've never been in that situation," she says.
Because of the delay, Jennifer says she has basically had to give up on any hope of pressing charges against the man.
Denise Hayes, volunteer spokeswoman at the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre, said the first thing they tell women to do if they think they have been a victim of drugging and sexual assault is go to the sexual assault nurse examiner clinic at the St. Clare's Hospital.
Most of the drugs commonly associated with date rape - GHB, Rohyponol and Ketamine - can only be detected in a person's body for a matter of hours afterwards, so it's important to be tested quickly.
Const. Shawn O'Reilly of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary says a case of drugging and sexual assault would likely result in a general charge of assault.
But he added it's uncommon to lay charges in such a case.
"Investigators in our sexual assault unit say it's not widely reported, but it's talked about a fair bit. What they're finding is when the reports come in, it's too late to gather any evidence of the drug that would still be in the person's system."
But Hayes says even if someone goes straight to the doctor's office, they may not be able to prove what happened.
"What we find happening is some of the drugs that are used are just everyday drugs. Some offenders are just raiding their grandmother's medicine chest, taking Valium or sleeping pills or whatever they can get on a Friday night, because this is so rampant - it's a huge issue. Often times, these are drugs that don't show up (in tests)," she says.
"It's very opportunistic, it's a very insidious thing to do, because it does render someone incapable of fighting back. The deeper danger is of drug interaction, and people with conditions," she says.
"It's only a matter of time until someone becomes very ill or, even as a result, dies."
Hayes says the use of date rape drugs has become common in St. John's over the past seven years, and although they don't keep formal records at the crisis centre, they get a few calls of suspected drugging and date rape a month.
In 2006, roughly 75 per cent of cases seen by the sexual assault nurse examiner clinic in St. John's were proven or suspected to be drug-facilitated sexual assault, according to the crisis centre.
"Most of us tend to think of downtown George Street when we think of date-rape drugs and assault, but we get incidents from women in their 40s and 50s that go to house parties, campers in parks during parties in the summer, university residents. It can happen anywhere, anytime where refreshments are being served," Hayes says.
"Of course, the majority is happening to young people, but it's not exclusively happening to them.
"If I was going downtown, yes, you'd know to cover your drink," Jennifer says, "but when you're invited to someone's house, you're not expecting anything like that, unless you've been through it, especially here in Newfoundland. I really did not realize it was rampant.
"I don't want to name names or lash out at anybody, but I'm making sure that women and men here know that these drugs exist," she says.

nbell@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis, Prevention Centre

Geographic location: St. John's, Newfoundland, Clare George Street

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Recent comments

  • JK
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    Does anyone on this planet not know about these things? So is the story meant to be purient? Or is it a how to for lechers? If it is meant to be a cautionary tale, then where on earth have they been living?

  • concerned
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    i can't believe nothing was done about this CRIME!!!! i cant' help but wonder how many more times he did this since jennifer's assault. i would certainly find a way to correct this situation if it was the last thing i did !

  • Mark
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Do the people that is doing this have anything better to do then to Drug a girl and do unnessary things to her? i mean come on how desperate can a person get? Far as i am concerned is that, the person that did this should get his privates removed from his body and deal with that for the rest of his live. then he will see how desperate he is. For the Ladys, Watch yourself when you are at house parties or downtown; and always always remember always Expect The Unexpected

  • John
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    This story should be a wake up call to women(and men, but rarely) everywhere in NL. And to Jennifer: you know if you were violated or not? If so, and if you know someone took photos of you without permission, then I would stop at nothing to stop this person from ever displaying or showing those photos to anyone. Approach a lawyer and /or the courts, obtain a peace bond application against that person as a start. If all else fails, then I'd make that persons life a living hell.

  • Castaway
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    My comments are not directed to Jennifer, as I'm sure she realizes hind sight is 20/20, nor are they meant to preach to anyone; however, we are living in bad times and we must be a step ahead in all our actions, to avoid unfortunate consequences.

    For Jennifer, a trained practical nurse, there was already a red flag she ignored: Going to the house party of someone she had not seen since high shool? One might as well pick up a total stranger at a bar and go to his home to party !

    Women of all ages, you cannot be careful enough regardless of where you are. If you are drinking, do not let your glass out of your sight. Do not let someone else take your glass to refill it for you. Do not let someone buy a drink for you unless you see the drink being poured into a clean glass before you. If you are not a drinker and feel the slightest bit of dizziness, get someone you trust to take you home right away! Do not accept to lie down in a stranger's home to get over a hangover, or a headache. Doing any of these is setting yourself up for BIG TIME trouble.

    Common sense is our birthright- use it, before you lose it. Please be WISE before you are NICE !

  • DND
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    This is why it's better not to accept any drinks, or just drink what you pour off for yourself at parties.

  • Anon
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    And still the most common date rape drug is alcohol.

  • well well
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Sounds like an opportunity to reintroduce the Chastity Belt .....By choice of course!!

  • george
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Some of the comments above make me sick. Imagine the horror this person went and is going through and some of you zero in on the writing abilities of the columnist. Shame!!

    And JK what planet are you from?? Yes a vast majority of people are aware that these drugs and the trash that use them are out there, but as the story warns one can never be too cautious. It's not just the premiscuous bar scene dowtown where these things can and do happen, but at private parties and receptions as well. Hopefully the story gets one persons attention and makes people more aware. I also believe that it sends the message to all of us that we need to be more prudent and take care of eachother. As the parent of a young girl going to university in St. John's I wory about this sort of thing every day. I'll make sure she reads this story and remind her to keep an eye on her friends and ask them to do the same for her.

    Bravo to Jennifer for having the guts to tell her story and to the writer.

    Hopefully there will soon be a sentence handed down in a case such as this and lets all call on our inadequate justice system to throw the book at the slime bag and remove the likes of it from our streets for a very long time.

  • Mercedes
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    These comments are so unkind! Because The Telegram made a boo boo in that second sentence, don't take it out on this young woman! She needs us to reach out to her and verbally embrace her! This can happen to any of us no matter how immune we think we are. Sympathize with her, emphatise with her, and above all pray for her and her son! My little darling, you're in my thoughts and my prayers. There are good men out there so don't let this experience mar your thoughts toward all of them.

  • Joy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Ya what is that line about anyway, aren't
    we all just the same.What other kind are out there?

    Even women youd wouldnt expect to hear from have horror stories.

  • Nick B
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    Even women youd wouldnt expect to hear from have horror stories

    It's tough to get into an article when the second sentence looks like the one above. Do you not proof read an article after writing it? The editors can't pick up on something like this? Wow.

  • JK
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    Does anyone on this planet not know about these things? So is the story meant to be purient? Or is it a how to for lechers? If it is meant to be a cautionary tale, then where on earth have they been living?

  • concerned
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    i can't believe nothing was done about this CRIME!!!! i cant' help but wonder how many more times he did this since jennifer's assault. i would certainly find a way to correct this situation if it was the last thing i did !

  • Mark
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    Do the people that is doing this have anything better to do then to Drug a girl and do unnessary things to her? i mean come on how desperate can a person get? Far as i am concerned is that, the person that did this should get his privates removed from his body and deal with that for the rest of his live. then he will see how desperate he is. For the Ladys, Watch yourself when you are at house parties or downtown; and always always remember always Expect The Unexpected

  • John
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    This story should be a wake up call to women(and men, but rarely) everywhere in NL. And to Jennifer: you know if you were violated or not? If so, and if you know someone took photos of you without permission, then I would stop at nothing to stop this person from ever displaying or showing those photos to anyone. Approach a lawyer and /or the courts, obtain a peace bond application against that person as a start. If all else fails, then I'd make that persons life a living hell.

  • Castaway
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    My comments are not directed to Jennifer, as I'm sure she realizes hind sight is 20/20, nor are they meant to preach to anyone; however, we are living in bad times and we must be a step ahead in all our actions, to avoid unfortunate consequences.

    For Jennifer, a trained practical nurse, there was already a red flag she ignored: Going to the house party of someone she had not seen since high shool? One might as well pick up a total stranger at a bar and go to his home to party !

    Women of all ages, you cannot be careful enough regardless of where you are. If you are drinking, do not let your glass out of your sight. Do not let someone else take your glass to refill it for you. Do not let someone buy a drink for you unless you see the drink being poured into a clean glass before you. If you are not a drinker and feel the slightest bit of dizziness, get someone you trust to take you home right away! Do not accept to lie down in a stranger's home to get over a hangover, or a headache. Doing any of these is setting yourself up for BIG TIME trouble.

    Common sense is our birthright- use it, before you lose it. Please be WISE before you are NICE !

  • DND
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    This is why it's better not to accept any drinks, or just drink what you pour off for yourself at parties.

  • Anon
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    And still the most common date rape drug is alcohol.

  • well well
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Sounds like an opportunity to reintroduce the Chastity Belt .....By choice of course!!

  • george
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Some of the comments above make me sick. Imagine the horror this person went and is going through and some of you zero in on the writing abilities of the columnist. Shame!!

    And JK what planet are you from?? Yes a vast majority of people are aware that these drugs and the trash that use them are out there, but as the story warns one can never be too cautious. It's not just the premiscuous bar scene dowtown where these things can and do happen, but at private parties and receptions as well. Hopefully the story gets one persons attention and makes people more aware. I also believe that it sends the message to all of us that we need to be more prudent and take care of eachother. As the parent of a young girl going to university in St. John's I wory about this sort of thing every day. I'll make sure she reads this story and remind her to keep an eye on her friends and ask them to do the same for her.

    Bravo to Jennifer for having the guts to tell her story and to the writer.

    Hopefully there will soon be a sentence handed down in a case such as this and lets all call on our inadequate justice system to throw the book at the slime bag and remove the likes of it from our streets for a very long time.

  • Mercedes
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    These comments are so unkind! Because The Telegram made a boo boo in that second sentence, don't take it out on this young woman! She needs us to reach out to her and verbally embrace her! This can happen to any of us no matter how immune we think we are. Sympathize with her, emphatise with her, and above all pray for her and her son! My little darling, you're in my thoughts and my prayers. There are good men out there so don't let this experience mar your thoughts toward all of them.

  • Joy
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    Ya what is that line about anyway, aren't
    we all just the same.What other kind are out there?

    Even women youd wouldnt expect to hear from have horror stories.

  • Nick B
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    Even women youd wouldnt expect to hear from have horror stories

    It's tough to get into an article when the second sentence looks like the one above. Do you not proof read an article after writing it? The editors can't pick up on something like this? Wow.