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Thursday, September 30, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 28

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Students at higher risk for rape

Wednesday lecture emphasizes prevention for men and women

By Audrey Warren
Senior Staff Writer

In their life span, one in three women will be sexually assaulted -- and the statistics are more threatening for college women, one in six of whom are at risk.

The risk and prevention of sexual assault, both for women and men, was the topic of Wednesday's Rape Prevention Awareness lecture by Gail Hudson-Gillan, psychologist at Counseling and Psychological Services.

"Frequently when someone is sexually assaulted, I don't get to talk to them until after the fact ... so I like to come and talk ahead of time in hopes that I can help somebody find a way to protect themselves," Hudson-Gillan said.

Date rape and acquaintance rape are not motivated by sexual desire and arousal, Hudson-Gillan said. "We're not talking about engaging in sex, we're talking about violence," she said.

The discussion focused on acquaintance rape, or date rape, the types of circumstances where such crimes take place and the kind of date-rape drugs used.

Hudson-Gillan emphasized the importance for men and women both to be aware of their surroundings. People should always be aware of what is going on around them and even be suspicious of people who they know and like, she said.

"There is not a difference in motivation between someone who assaults you who knows you and someone who doesn't," she said.

Hudson-Gillan said no one should leave a drink unattended or take a drink from a stranger, since date-rape drugs are often placed in unattended beverages.

"I am teaching you today to be paranoid," she said.

The most common agent involved in sexual assault cases is alcohol, but drugs like Rohypnol and Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate, or GHB, also play a big role, Hudson-Gillan said.

Rohypnol is commonly used for sleep disorders. It begins working within 20 to 30 minutes after it is taken, and its effects can last for up to eight hours. A side effect of the drug is drowsiness, leaving one in a state of amnesia.

The drug is odorless and colorless when mixed in a beverage and has only a slight bitter taste, making it nearly undetectable.

Because Rohypnol dissolves quickly in a drink, is hard to detect, and its side effects make it a very dangerous rape-connected drug, Hudson-Gillan said. She said GHB, which has similar effects, is equally dangerous.

Hudson-Gillan advised women to go to parties in groups with the understanding that they will all go home together and watch out for each other at the party. She said to watch for some distinct tell-tale signs of someone who has been given any type of drug.

Those signs include an appearance of intoxication disproportionate to the amount of alcohol consumed, unexplained drowsiness, impaired motor coordination, dizziness, confusion and an impaired ability to remember details.

Though most common among women, sexual assault can also happen to men, and Hudson-Gillan stressed that men must take the subject seriously.

"Your voice as a man can do more to prevent sexual assault than all the lectures I can give," she said, addressing the men in the audience.

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