Danya Sherman says she will not be broken.
“In the summer of 2016 while studying abroad in Spain,” she told WTOP, “my friend drugged and assaulted me.”
“It was only upon returning back to the states that I found I was not alone,” she added in a video.
So Sherman, a junior at George Washington University, decided to do something about it. She got the idea in a class called Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership, where students were tasked with coming up with a business idea and submitting it to a university competition, according to WTOP.
She created KnoNap, a napkin that can detect the presence of several date rape drugs with just the drops of a drink by changing color. It was one of the winners at her school’s 2017 New Venture Competition.
“I wanted to create something that I wish I could have used,” she said, “and that I know that I would be able to help others so they don’t have to go through the same things I went through.”
Someone is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds in the United States, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Fifty-four percent of sexual assault victims are aged between 18 to 34, according to RAINN, and women on college campuses are more likely to be raped than robbed.
That’s why Sherman told the GW Hatchet that she hopes to start distributing the napkins sometime this year.
“Unfortunately, when freshman students come into a university, in high school it’s not really an issue that they had to think about most of the time,” she said. “Students really learn about drug-facilitated assault when they are affected or when a friend of theirs is affected. … If they’ve had one drink, five drinks, we want the individual to be able to see the results and be able to interpret it.”
But she also wanted to make sure the napkins are discreet, so anybody can use them in public places without being noticed. They can alert someone to the presence of 26 of the 40 common date rape drugs, she told WTOP, including Xanax, Valium and and Rohypnol.
“We wanted to create a product that could be seamlessly incorporated into any social setting. Napkins are always around alcohol,” she told Fox4. “They are always in bars and clubs and we’re working to have them integrated into fraternities, social events and social organizations.”
“They’re also easy to carry around in either a pocket or purse so they’re very portable and can be taken anywhere so if you’re uncomfortable, you’re able to take it out and use it at your own discretion.”
While her main goal is to help others stay safe, Sherman said she also hopes to send a message to the man who assaulted her.
“One day, I pray he sees it and knows that he inspired it,” she said, “and that he couldn’t break me.”