Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Superman Flew Away

So I reached into my way-back machine and conjured up the only piece of actual "published" work I have ever done. An Op-Ed published in The Burlington Free Press, Vermont's answer to the New York Times, November 4, 1997, when I was 18 years old.

So, you had to much to drink. You're at a party, have a good time when you see an extremely attractive guy. Tall, dark and handsome, with a gleam in his eye, and a smile adorning his flawless face.

The two of you get to talking. During an intermission, you get up to powder your nose. In your absence, you so-called Superman has slipped something into your drink. Later, you and Mr. Wonderful end up going too far.

You might think this was just a one-night stand; a drunken act of false intimacy. In reality, what happened to you was rape.

By definition, the word rape means a violation. Though you weren't beaten up, abducted, tied down or brutally forced, you were under the influence of drugs and alcohol. You were taken advantage of; you were violated; you were raped.

Facts about such rapes are hard to keep straight and even harder to prosecute. With date-rate drugs becoming more common, these rapists may never be charged.

Rohypnol (roofies) is a colorless, odorless pill that dissolves quickly in liquid. In 10 minutes, it can cause a drunk-like effect that lasts up to eight hours. It also enhances the effects of alcohol, causing loss of inhibition, extreme sleepiness, relaxation, and perhaps worst of all for its victims, amnesia.

Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is also a popular date-rape drug. In its purest form, it is odorless and tasteless. It swiftly depresses the respiratory system, causing memory loss due to lack of oxygen to the brain.

In August of 1996, I experienced what many of these victims have gone through. I was at such a party, surrounded by people I thought to be my friends, but apparently I was wrong.

Rohypnol was slipped into my drink. Before I was drugged, I remembered everything...conversations, people I held them with. I had been fully aware of everything.

Later that evening, I was raped. It wasn't forced. I wasn't beaten or tied down, but I was raped. I was drugged and taken advantage of, and that's something I can never change.

More information of roofies and GHB should be made available. More cases of rape caused by these drugs should be prosecuted. More girls who experience this turmoil should be believed. Without public awareness about the drugs, there will be less chance of these rapes being prevented.

While brutal and fatal rape incidents make major headlines, rapes like mine are seldom reported, due to the amnesia caused by the drugs and their ability to flush themselves out of the human system in 24 hours.

What happened to love involved with sex? What happened to respect? Those movie-like, white-laced, candle-lit, wine-sipping, romantic experiences meant to take place on a beach at sunset have been replaced by the intoxicated, unilateral participation, unconscious, beer-slugging experiences that leave no sentiment..or memory for that matter.

I still feel pangs of shock when I think about what happened to me. Its hard to understand. But there are no answers. I know its not my fault, and I feel that the more people know, the less likely they will have to go through what I did.

A month later, the paper dedicated a letters to the editor section to my article. I also got letters from Vermont residents who just simply wrote my name and the town I was living in in Vermont from the by-line. It was the only time in my life I have ever felt successful writing.

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