Quebec government wants to increase victims' access to 'date-rape drug' testing
Ariane Brunet was attending a friend's concert in Montreal last May. She had a few drinks, and then her memory went blank.
"The most traumatizing part is the part after, where you feel a lot of shame," said the 31-year-old singer and songwriter.
Her friends told her later that she was conversing like normal for some time. Then she told them she felt extremely ill. She asked her friend to accompany her to the bathroom.
"I couldn't feel my whole body. I felt like I was drowning in the floor. All of my body was really, really heavy," she said. "I remember the feeling of being trapped in my body at some point."
She couldn't move. Her friend splashed water on her. Nothing was working. Her friends brought her outside and called an ambulance. They also called her husband who met her at the hospital.
"I couldn't control my body, but my mind was there sometimes," Brunet said.
In the brief moments of consciousness, she remembers repeatedly asking hospital staff to be tested for drugs, but she said medical staff refused. She felt staff were laughing at her, judging her, and acting as though she was just too drunk.
"I remember saying, 'don't laugh at me. I am a mom.' I was justifying myself for being drugged, for being in that position," Brunet said. "I just felt a lot of judgments."
Now 10 months later, she still has questions.
"There's still a little percentage of you that's still doubting," said Brunet, who wanted to fight back against her attacker but had no test results to prove a crime was committed.
Quebec's health minister announced Thursday that he wants people who believe they have been drugged to have access to testing so victims can know for sure if they were dosed with something like gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), commonly known as the "date-rape drug."
"We must ensure that not only are the tests available in hospitals, but that they are available quickly," said Christian Dubé.
This announcement comes after several stories of women reporting they were drugged while out on the town have cropped up in recent weeks. The National Assembly then passed a motion on Wednesday declaring the situation to be a crisis.
ER doctor and toxicologist Dr. Guillaume Lacombe said GHB stays in a person's body for a few hours, but only two labs can run the tests in the province.
And the test isn't usually offered to patients because results don't change how they're treated, he said. He said it's important to think of every aspect of the issue — and to have a firm grasp of the objective behind the testing.
"Is it to reassure the population? To put in place a legal process? Or just to take care of the patient?" Lacombe said.
"We need to make sure that the legal side of things, it's taken care of because it might be possible that those tests won't be amenable in court afterwards."
So far, the Quebec government has offered no details on how the testing plan will be rolled out.