A young woman heads out for a night on the town and is found several hours later unconscious in a park, her clothes missing and her memory of how she arrived there a blank.Tests confirm she has not only been sexually assaulted, but has the potentially lethal date-rape drug gamma-hydroxybutyrate, known as fantasy or GBH, in her system.She has been the victim of a spiked drink.Wollongong Sexual Assault Service senior clinical psychologist Alison Grundy said sexual assault was insidious enough, but when compounded by drink spiking it went to a new level of psychological damage.”Often with these drugs the memories don’t get laid down … As a psychologist we work on processing trauma. If you can’t remember what the trauma is, how can you process it?”And when you don’t know, your imagination is much worse.”Ms Grundy said the Wollongong service had counselled an average one to two drink-spiking victims a month. In the past five weeks, with warmer weather, that figure had increased to one a week.NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures show 10 drink-spiking cases reported in the Illawarra during the first six months of this year – six in Wollongong and two each in the Lake Illawarra and Shoalhaven police commands.Trends are impossible to formulate as these figures are all that is available since legislation against drink spiking as a stand-alone crime was introduced in March.The offence, officially termed “assault – spike food or drink” carries a maximum penalty of two years’ jail. Since it was introduced, 130 cases have been reported statewide.Ms Grundy said it was uncertain which drugs were most frequently used because they had usually left the victim’s system by the time the case was reported. Those who do front within the first 24 hours are tested for the most common drugs: alcohol, benzodiazapines such as valium, GBH, ketamine, speed, ecstasy, and sometimes a combination.”There’s also a range of different drugs that I’ve never heard of. The ‘ice’ kind of thing. There’s a lot of cooking up different types of drugs,” Ms Grundy said.It’s a chilling climate for young people about to embark on the club and pub scene.Full story in the weekend edition of the Mercury
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