Health Zone: Drugged and Raped.But What They Slipped in My Drink Could Have Killed Me; Chilling Truth about Chemical Cocktails Used in Sex Crimes

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL JOHNSON

WHEN Tania left her cola on the table and nipped to the pub loo, she had no idea of the nightmare to follow.

Two men at the bar secretly slipped a sedative into her drink and waited until the drug took effect.

Then they whisked her back to their flat and drugged her again before repeatedly raping her.

It has taken the 28-year-old from Dorset years to get over her terrifying ordeal, but it could have been even worse. For many of the drugs favoured by rapists like the pair who attacked Tania have deadly side-effects and are capable of killing you.

One of them, GHB, could cause death from respiratory failure if mixed with alcohol. Another, ketamine, can be fatal if taken with GHB and alcohol. Then there are tranquillisers called benzodiazepines, which have been linked with damage to the brain and nervous system.

You might think you'd be safe enough in a pub or club with plenty of people around. But some ruthless men use these places to prey on unsuspecting women - and it takes just seconds to spike a drink and turn it into a powerful chemical cocktail.

Shocking figures show that drug-induced rapes are reaching alarming levels - and official statistics are probably the tip of the iceberg as many assaults still go unreported.

The Drug Rape Trust charity helped more than 1,500 women in 2001, twice as many as the previous year. And attacks reported to the Roofie Foundation, a UK drug-rape help group, rocketed from 39 in 1990 to 804 in 2000. The full toll every year runs into thousands.

Det Chief Insp Peter Sturman set up the Drug Rape Trust after researching the chilling sex crime. He says: "I discovered that there are a lot of people out there being attacked, not being believed and not receiving the services that society should give them. Somebodyhad to help them. "Tania in all likelihood was given ketamine, which can cause feelings of loss of reality, hallucinations and temporary paralysis. The drug can affect memory, which is why Tania found her experience felt more like a dream than reality." Date-rape drugs are hard to spot and fast-working. Now police and health-care professionals are warning women to be ever-vigilant in bars, pubs and clubs, especially when dealing with strangers. Tania wasn't even drinking alcoholthat night. She was 19 and working as an au pair in Germany when she went to an Irish pub in Munich with a girlfriend They were drinking colas because they were short of cash. Tania says: "These two Australian men started talking to us.They were about 29 and looked like normal guys. One, John, was quite good-looking and claimed to be a model, but the other one, Marcus, gave me the creeps. They were trying to impress us, casually chatting about how widely travelled they were."They were very insistent about buying drinks for us, but we refused. I went to the toilet, leaving my cola on atable for a couple of minutes. John was talking to my friend all the time. I have no doubt that they were quite practised at doing what they did and wanted to get both of us, but she'd already finished her drink. "After I got back to the table, it was like I blacked out. The next thing I knew, it was 11.30pmand I suddenly came round. My friend had gone home - she must have thought I was having a good time. All Iremember is feeling very relaxed and happy and the whole pub seeming very colourful." The men bundled Tania off in a taxi. In her confused state, she asked what was going on, but theyignored the question and changed the subject. "They kept telling me how beautiful I was, and I began to think: 'What's going on?' "We got out at this massive block of flats and I was suddenly very scared. They said we could all go up to their apartment to get a map to find out where the nearest tube station was. Once up there they gave me an orange juice, which I drank. "Minutes later, I began to feel really strange. …