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Rape-drug survivor creates drug-detecting napkin

Freethink | YouTube | Fair Use

Giovanna Binci - published on 09/23/21

A creative and resilient young woman has found a way to protect other women from the trauma she suffered with her product, KnoNap.

Sometimes we can use pain as an excuse to inflict more pain or to avoid the responsibility of having to do the right thing. We might multiply the pain to feel less alone in the suffering, but we will then stay trapped in it. Some turn their suffering into anger, resentment, and revenge.

It’s a normal part of any healing journey to go through many feelings, but what matters is never to stop aiming at the real goal — recovering peace.

Danya Sherman’s story

Danya Sherman, a 24-year-old American student, will always carry the pain of the night an acquaintance raped her. She was in Spain for a university experience abroad. One night in a club she was offered a cocktail that had been secretly drugged. She drank it unsuspectingly, and that night she was raped. 

Danya could have dealt with that pain in many ways: she decided to look it in the face and to talk about it with other friends, overcoming the secrecy and discovering that the horror she had experienced was much more common than she thought. She took that trauma and made something out of it to benefit other women.

KnoNap, to protect women

Danya has transformed cocktail napkins into an instrument of salvation for many other women. 

KnoNap is the startup Danya founded “to empower, educate, and advocate against drug facilitated sexual assault and crime.” To this end, she created a napkin able to detect the presence of rape drugs in drinks. Just wet it and wait for it to change color to know if the cocktail contains drugs or not. 

The goal, explains the CEO in a video, was to create something discreet that would make it possible to continue socializing without sacrificing safety. That’s why she chose to start working with a common and simple white napkin. It’s so simple as to be mistaken for a normal napkin and so competitive in cost that it can be substituted for the normal ones in many bars without exaggerated costs for the owners of the premises.

Danya Sherman and her company have been included in the Forbes list of 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurs. 

She managed not only to look at her own suffering, but to see beyond her story to see how to help others. Instead of wondering why no one had been there for her, she decided to take care of other women. No one protected her, but today, thanks to her resilience and creativity, some other young woman will not suffer the same violence.

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