One in five college women are the victims of sexual assault.
It's this statistic that made entrepreneur Debi Cashman want to step up and help. She became a group facilitator at a women's rape and assault crisis center, and through the countless stories, she picked up on a serious trend: drink spiking, or drug-facilitated assault, which accounts for 160,000 of those rapes.
"I hadn't realized what a huge problem it had become and their stories inspired me to find a solution for this awful problem," she told A Plus in an email.
Enter Agent V Lip Gloss, a fully functioning lip gloss that also doubles as a tool to test drinks for drugs.
If a woman detects her drink could have been spiked, or drugged, she can take out the lip gloss and quickly dip the testing strip into the drink. If the drink detects any foreign chemicals, the strip will change color.
A survey of A Plus readers in collaboration with Agent V found that just over 21 percent of respondents had either experienced their drink being spiked or had a friend who had, so Cashman's gloss could make a huge impact.
Cashman told A Plus that putting the testing strip in the lip gloss makes sense as 80 percent of women carry at least one lip product with them at all times.
"My idea was to pair easy-to-use testing strips with the lip gloss women are already carrying so they'd never forget them at home," she told A Plus. "It's all based on trusted science that works, but the trick is making it easy to carry and use in a variety of settings."
Agent V is patent pending, set to be manufactured for the public early next year and, in addition to the chemical detection aspect, will come in all colors and textures.
Though these efforts alone won't end drink spiking — people who spike drinks should stop spiking them, period, or face harsher consequences, especially when currently 15 out of 16 accused rapists go free — Cashman believes that giving women a tool to help detect a spiked drink is empowering.
The company will join similar efforts, such as the White House's It's On Us campaign to combat assault, which launched in May 2014 after 55 colleges were under investigation for sexual assault and rape allegations. Prior to that, attention to the issue as a whole, let alone drink spiking, weren't being addressed.
Hopefully, with the White House and products like Agent V leading the way, that will soon change and put the power back in the hands of women — literally.
"Agent V alerts you to danger, allowing you to stay in control," she told A Plus. "Women should feel free to go out with friends, and to look and feel beautiful — and safe."
This article has been updated to include the results of the survey. This story is sponsored by Agent V.