Chemical Submission Sexual Assaults Among Young Acquaintances






“When they appear violations In the movies, the typical thing is that the victim is a girl who goes down the street and then an unknown man grabs her from behind, but there are many types of rapes. It can happen to you too in an environment where you think you are safe, among acquaintances, as has happened to me”Says Sara. This wake-up call, directed directly at other young girls like her, is verbalized after four months of processing a painful mixture of sensations: overwhelmed, fear, sadness, shame, guilt, disgust and above all impotence. Much helplessness.

Report the sexual assault you suffered this summer It hurts because it means reliving that pain, but the 18-year-old girl has decided to tell RTVE.es about her experience for the sole purpose, she says, of raise awareness about the increase in chemical submission among young people and to help other girls know how to act if they find themselves in a similar situation.

In his case there was what the experts define as “proactive chemical submission”, that is, your attacker administered some chemical substance without her knowing it, something that, according to other young people and confirmed by several experts in sexual violence, is all too common today.

Attacked at a friends party: “I woke up with different clothes”

During the long conversation with this medium, the exercise that Sara (fictitious name) tries to do to protect herself from her own story is to narrate the episode of sexual assault suffered in a “mechanical” way, as if the memory were not his, as if he were telling someone else’s experience. However, at times the young woman stops in the story and it is the silences that express that the anguish is still deeply rooted in her body.

A friend from college invited me to a house That she had rented with other friends for the weekend. Other friends and acquaintances of her were also there. At night we had a kind of party, with music, and everything was fine. In general, I hardly drink, I don’t like it, but I drank a drink because I saw the others more upbeat. I went to take the second one and from then on I don’t remember anything else, ”says Sara, who lives in Madrid.

It would be at least five hours until the next morning, but in the girl’s head there is a kind of “void” about what happened at that time.

“When I woke up the first thing I did was look at myself and I saw that he had different clothes than what he wore during the day. I didn’t remember anything. I went to the bathroom and noticed that it hurt (when urinating). I started to get really scared. I asked my friend and they told me that I had gone with one. I told them: ‘It’s a lie, right? I began to overwhelm myself in an incredible way. They came to me as a ‘flashback’ but I wasn’t able to remember anything well and I couldn’t find my clothes ”, he explains.

Confusion prevents recognizing oneself as a victim and reporting

The young woman then stops to point out that, when she goes out to party, she is always “the one in charge, the one in control.” That is why, between fear and anguish, they were mixed at that moment shame and guilt. the she insistently asked her friend for forgiveness because he was very concerned, he says, “the impression” that might have been taken from her.

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“Me I would not stop crying and I would explain to him all the time that I am not like thatBut, since my friend had never seen me drunk, she thought I acted that way because of alcohol (…) Later, I was also very afraid of not knowing which one of them I was supposed to have slept with. He did not know if he had used a condom. I was feeling dirty, I just wanted to get home and shower”Recalls Sara.

The following was ask that they pass him “the instagram” of the alleged aggressor, the one who had been introduced to him the night before, and his phone. She wrote to him on WhatsApp and he told her, laughing, that she was “very blind from alcohol” (stressing that it was due to alcohol) and offered to pay her for the ‘morning after pill’ so that she would stay “more calm.”

The young woman was not able to accuse him directly because at that time she did not recognize herself as a victim and because felt that “I had no evidence”. For those same reasons and due to ignorance he did not go to the hospital or make a complaint.

I see in my networks many girls who say ‘be careful because in such a disco they are throwing drugs

“It is not about living in fear, but since we cannot change how they act, it can at least help us to be aware that this is real and to know how to act. It has happened to me in a place where I felt safe, in a house to which a friend invited me and where there were people who seemed to be trustworthy (…) Lately I also see many girls in my networks who say ‘be careful because in such a disco they are throwing drugs in drinks, ‘”laments Sara, who is receiving psychological help to deal with the trauma.

According to data from the Ministry of the Interior, so far this year 49 complaints have been registered for sexual assaults in which drugs or drugs have been administered to the victim without their knowledge. They are 75% more than in the total of the year 2015 (when there were 28), a figure that, they explain from that department, “goes in parallel to the increase in crimes against sexual freedom and indemnity” that has been experienced in recent years. years. In any case, the statistics do not quite match reality, according to experts.

Asked about the increase in chemical submission in nightlife venues and the #DenunciaTuBar movement, the Government delegate against Gender Violence, Victoria Rosell, pointed out that the complaints only “are showing us 11% of the reality of sexual violence “and also from the National Institute of Toxicology and Forensic Sciences of Spain (INTCF) affirm that there is “under-reporting” in these cases.

“What we have been able to verify is that the number of cases received has increased of crimes against sexual freedom in which the investigation is requested of chemicals. Above all, the number of petitions has increased within the context that we call chemical vulnerability, that is, opportunistic chemical submission in which the aggressor takes advantage of the victim’s state after the voluntary use of psychoactive substances “, says Begoña Bravo, head of the Service of Chemist of the Madrid department of INTCF.

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Concern at the university level: “There are students who come to ask for help”

From the Equality area of ​​the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) affirm that attacks by chemical submission, both proactive and opportunistic, are growing among young people.

“We are very concerned about the chemical submission issue, obviously. Not that there have been cases on campus, but there have been. it has been suffered by female students who have come to the Equality Unit to ask for help. We accompany them from the psychological care device and from the social care device, but they have to file a complaint with the Police and they do not always want to do it, “explains Isabel Tajahuerce, professor and delegate of the Rector for Equality at the UCM.

Due to the increase in cases, this university has decided to start recording sexual assaults and are developing a specific guideline for action. In addition, they have organized some workshops on chemical submission in which they explain to the students how chemical agents manipulate people’s will and how they should proceed if they believe that they or a colleague may have been a victim.

What kind of masculinity is being built when you attack a friend or a partner?

“We do not work only on chemical submission through drugs, but also what has traditionally been the great chemical submission, alcohol, leading to a state in which consent cannot be given (…) This is also happening now and what alarms us is that many times these attacks occur in the immediate environment of the victim, that is, between supposed friends “, adds Tajahuerce, who wonders:” What type of masculinity Is it being built when you attack a friend or a colleague because she was drugged or because she has drunk excessively and cannot give that consent? What is happening?

The University of Valencia patents a ‘kit’ to detect GHB in beverages

Also at the University of Valencia (UV) they have been giving this type of training to students for a few months within the framework of a project called ‘NOSUM’. What’s more, put into practice with the students a personal ‘kit’ for the detection of the drug GHB (known as liquid ecstasy), which has recently been developed by the MODeLic research group at the same university.

Empar Vengut, pharmacist and member of the ScienceFlows research group in Scientific Communication at the UV, claims to be “Surprised” by the number of cases of chemical submission that he has known in this time. Not all victims have suffered sexual abuse or assault, he points out, but there are many who detected having been intoxicated without knowing for what purpose.

In some workshops they told us that in Fallas this was the order of the day

“There are people (mostly girls) who have written to us because it had happened to them and others who had a known case. Even some friends of mine with whom I had not spoken for a long time told me that this summer had happened to them. When you speak it openly, you see that there are more people who have suffered itVengut points out.

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This researcher assumes that the premeditated use of these drugs can sometimes occur among acquaintances and tells: “In some workshops we did they told us that in Fallas this was the order of the day, but it was no longer just for abuse or sexual assaults, but for fun, that is, your friends put something in your cup and you didn’t know. One commented on it and the others said ‘yes, yes, it’s true.’

“Easily accessible” substances on the internet

In cases of premeditated chemical submission, the most common substances, according to Bravo, are those that have hypnotic action, like benzodiazepines. In opportunistic or mixed submission the most common substances are ethyl alcohol, cocaine, or cannabis, sometimes combined “with the victim’s own pharmacological treatments” such as antidepressants, antipsychotics or antihistamines.

Hard-to-detect assaults: only one in five victims of chemical submission reports to the police

Dr. Gabriela Peña y Lillo, who works in the Hospital Infanta Leonor emergencies, warns that “there are substances that have no taste, smell or color” and that they are “the perfect product for submission” because they generate the desired effects “without the need to be supplied at high levels”. In addition, he says, “they can be bought online and young people can easily access them.“.

We have to try to resolve what is happening with young people who are buying substances to sexually assault

Since many of these drugs, such as GHB or scopolamine (known as burundanga), disappear very quickly from the body, this and other health companies emphasize the importance of to act quickly before any suspicion.

“It is important that if someone believes that they have suffered an assault of this type come to the hospital as soon as possible. They have to know that we are here to help them, not to control or judge“, underlines Dr. Ana Martínez Virto, President of the Violence Commission of the La Paz University Hospital, who perceives an increase in chemical submission for different purposes since 2015.

Finally, Peña and Lillo stress the importance of improving health protocols for sexual violence in order to avoid “revictimization” and asks to focus on the base of the problem: “Although we are focused on giving support and protection to the victims we have to try to figure out what is happening with young people that they are buying substances to abuse or sexually assault. We will have to make an analysis and rethink what education we are giving these young people, “concludes the doctor.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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