It was the summer of 2013 when Hannah Keener, a Durango native, was at a bar in town when she realized something was wrong.
“I knew something was in my drink because I’m sensitive to medicine,” Keener said.
She immediately went outside and began throwing up, which may have benefited her.
Keener isn’t sure exactly what was in her drink, but she believes someone put Rohypnol, better known as roofies, in her drink. The two friends she was with also had their drinks tampered with, as they couldn’t remember anything the next morning.
Luckily, they were OK after the ordeal, but that’s not the case for everyone.
One in four college women are date-raped or have date-rape attempts, with women ages 16 to 24 being four times more likely than other age groups to be attacked, according to the University of the Sciences website. Of the attacks, 90 percent possibly involve alcohol.
“This is a problem everywhere,” said Maura Doherty Demko, executive director of Sexual Assault Services Organization in Durango. “Durango is equally affected as everywhere else.”
For Keener, this has not been the only attempt against her. While at college in Laramie, Wyoming, and while living in Brazil, she has received countless threats of sexual assault and rape.
A 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study reported that more than 50 percent of rapes on college campuses occur between August and November. This time period has become known as “the Red Zone.”
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network’s website, acquaintance rape, better known as date rape, is “coercive sexual activities that occur against a person’s will by means of force, violence, duress or fear of bodily injury” by a known person to the victim.
“We shame women a lot of the time for dressing too provocatively and drinking too much. We need to shift the blame to the perpetrator,” Keener said. “We need to promote a society where it’s OK to talk about sexual assault.”
Rita Warfield, patrol sergeant with the Durango Police Department, said alcohol is readily available in Durango, therefore making it the most-used date-rape drug here.
Colorado law says that if a person is drunk, he or she cannot consent to sex, Demko said.
Fort Lewis College received seven reports of sexual assault from 2008 to 2013, said Mitch Davis, public affairs officer at FLC.
SASO reports 137 unduplicated clients last year, with 312 total calls, which includes follow-ups. There were 32 reports made by victims to law enforcement with 25 SASO advocates present at the reporting, Demko said.
“Sexual assault is a chronically underreported crime,” Davis said. “We try to provide education and support so students are not afraid to report (attacks).”
To help educate students, FLC requires them at orientation to attend a session put on by the theater department called “The Elephant in the Room,” which covers sexual assault, binge drinking and other risky behaviors, Davis said.
FLC is continuing to better its faculty and staff education through more training, said Molly Wieser, Title IX coordinator at the college.
She advises students to report any incidents that occur on campus to help “connect the dots” to make the campus safer.
“Colleges want to do the right thing,” Wieser said.
Raising the awareness level of date rape can help resolve the issue, Keener said.
“You need to be aware,” she said.
She also said people need to look out for their friends, to have a plan in case something happens and to not be afraid of asking the police department for help.
“No means no,” Warfield said. “No one deserves to be raped, and no one has the right to rape.”
Elaine Severson is a student intern in her junior year at Fort Lewis College.