Spiking Experience from our Community

26/5/2022

The night before the first day of my second year at university, I was spiked. I went out for a couple of drinks with one of my best mates at a local favourite bar. I’d seen a lot of posts in our Facebook student’s group about other people being spiked in the city, as well as posts on social media about the spikings, but I was trying not to let it stop me from going out and enjoying my social life. My friend and I had 3 drinks and a meal each. Close to when we were leaving, I realised I felt much more drunk than I usually would and started feeling sick. Our first year at university had ended up being kind of miserable because of Covid, so we were celebrating a fresh start. Excited about the new term, we went back to his house to have one more drink. Halfway through a bottle of beer I started feeling considerably dizzy and confused. I remember not being able to follow the conversation properly and just nodding along.

Suddenly the room started spinning and I was sick. I started panicking and realising something didn’t feel right to me. At the time I wasn’t sure if I’d been spiked so I asked my friend to walk me home so I could sleep. Our houses are a 2-minute walk from each other but as soon as we left I couldn’t remember the way home. He knew the way and took me back, but I struggled to unlock the door. I remember looking at my house key and seeing a handful of keys that weren’t there. The next day I felt pretty rough and very anxious. I struggled to eat much and was really nervous about leaving the house and going to uni. After a couple of days, I reported what happened to the bar and the police, not knowing how much worse that would end up making me feel.

The bar manager I spoke to was really kind and supportive and made me feel less nervous about reporting what had happened. She quit soon after I reported the incident but still messaged me with updates on the report as it continued. She wanted me to report it to the police. Personally, I don’t trust the police and feel uncomfortable around police officers due to a distrust in the police system. I also wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through the ordeal of reporting what had happened, especially when I knew that there was barely any chance that there would be any evidence. In the end I did report it because I wanted to do something to help stop the consistent spikings where I live.

I felt that the police really let me down, despite my low expectations. Due to errors on their end, I didn’t hear back from an officer until a month after I had submitted my report. When I did hear back from the police, they told me that the bar’s CCTV footage had already been overwritten so the case would likely be closed. To make matters worse, the police also told me that the owner of the bar reported that he had spoken to me and that I was unable to provide relevant details for a CCTV trawl (such as where I had been sat, what time I was there and a visual description). Reading the police email I felt my heart sink and two thoughts raced through my head:

  1. The manager from the bar told me the CCTV was still available, contradicting what the owner had said.
  2. I  had never spoken to the owner before in my life and I had provided the relevant details to the manager when I spoke to her, also contradicting what the owner had said.

I was so upset and confused about what I was being told so I decided to go back to the bar and speak to someone. I remember standing outside and looking up at the sign and just feeling so nervous and  angry. I went in and asked to speak to the owner who apparently wasn’t there. I left my number with the bartender who said they’d pass it on to the owner. A few days passed and I didn’t hear anything, so I tried calling the bar. After a few tries the owner picked up and we arranged to meet the next day at the bar to discuss what happened.

The next day I arrived at the bar. To my (pleasant) surprise, the ex-manager I had spoken to was there and offered to sit with me during the meeting. The new manager was there too and asked, providing I was comfortable with it, if he could speak to me after the meeting. I went into the meeting wanting to get some clarity over how the situation had been handled so badly. The police had already confirmed again that the owner gave the two statements mentioned above.

The meeting lasted about an hour and wasn’t useful for me. The owner denied lying to the police and kept looking away from me. He said he would have given my report more attention if he knew I was so upset. I knew he didn’t want me to be there, I suppose spiking is bad for business. He kept jokingly asking me if I wanted a drink, saying I could ‘pour it myself’. I was so angry and upset that he was treating what had happened to me like a joke. I told him he had failed his customers by being irresponsible and not taking the incident seriously. I had to stop myself from screaming at him, not because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself from the other customers in the room, but because I knew I would start crying.

After the meeting I sat down with the manager and ex-manager, and they apologised for his behaviour. They were really kind and sensitive about what happened. After checking I was okay with it, we went over some ideas I had about how the bar could prevent a similar situation from happening again. I really appreciate that they cared about what I had to say and that they were respectful of my emotions, but I couldn’t help wondering if anything would ever change with the owner still in charge.

I went home and closed all my tabs on my laptop: Police emails, police complaint forms, drink testing websites, my own timeline and notes of what had happened. I do feel like I had some sort of closure from saying what I wanted to say, but it didn’t do anything to make me feel safer.

Since I was 16 I’ve experienced domestic abuse and sexual assault. As a result, I developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and was diagnosed in 2020. Being constantly hyper vigilant and aware of potential danger is one of my symptoms and being spiked exacerbated this. I felt afraid of going out anywhere alone and socialising was really challenging when alcohol was involved. I also felt particularly wary of men, making it hard for me to get to know new people and make friends at uni. Nearly 6 months later, I still feel that my experience of being spiked keeps impacting my life. Going out for drinks always feels like a ‘bad idea’. Normally when I do go out I either want to leave early or I feel so nervous that I get really drunk in an attempt to  feel less anxious. I’m constantly trying to assess if I feel drunk or how drunk I feel. I can’t relax, it’s like I’m waiting for it to happen again.

I’m proud of myself for holding the bar accountable for what happened and for trying to do the right thing. I wish it had been easier. I wish it never happened.

A couple of months after I was spiked, I submitted a report of my experience to The Egalitarian’s Spike Report. I think I liked the idea of a database being put together by people with similar experiences, in an effort to raise awareness of how widespread spiking is and to also protect others. Submitting my report made me feel more empowered. Reading through other submissions was both powerful and heart-breaking. So many people I know, particularly women, have been spiked before. It hurts to think of all their faces and what they’ve been through because of the actions of other individuals.

I try not to think too much about what happened to me, or the experiences of other people I know. I’m not trying to forget them but trying to take my mind off it and focus instead on the strength we have is what helps me. I think it really is so important to remember that together we are strong and that no one can take that away from us.

If you would like to share your own spiking experience, you can submit your report anonymously on our website here

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