Getting spiked on a night out can happen to anyone, victims tell MPs

People who spike drinks or inject drugs into others do not discriminate against whom they attack, MPs were told.

Speaking to the Parliament’s special committee on internal affairs, the victims said the perception that spiking was done exclusively by young women or for sexual or financial gratification was wrong.

Hannah Stratton, 51, from Newquay, Cornwall, told how she was unknowingly drugged while enjoying a few glasses of wine with friends in a quiet spot nearby.

“I couldn’t hold my torso up — my legs were like lead,” she said. Her friends helped her get a cab home, but she said she felt the driver judged her for being drunk.

Ms Stratton said self-doubt and “overwhelming shame” meant she felt unable to report the harrowing experience to police once the effects wore off.

“You just feel so disgusted with yourself,” she said. “It takes quite a while to process the event and realize that you shouldn’t blame yourself.”

She said she had previously warned her three daughters about the risks of spiking but thought she was “way too old” to be targeted herself.

Around 100 people “of all ages and both sexes” reached out to share similar experiences as she took to social media to share the incident.

Ms Stratton was one of three victims – two women and a man – who testified at the first hearing of the committee’s spiking inquiry on Wednesday.

Alexi Skitinis, from South Wales, shared how he was spiked with a drink one night in Las Vegas. He said he was disoriented, unable to move his hands and alone in a place he didn’t recognize. He was later hospitalized with kidney and liver problems.

“It took away the joy of going out with friends or planning anything with friends […] After that, I didn’t touch alcohol for almost two years,” he said.

Advice and guidance on topping up, both as a drink and as an injection, is available at Talk to Frank.

The organization says:

  • If you’re feeling strange, ill, or drunk even though you know you can’t be drunk, seek help from a trusted friend or event organizer.

  • If you think you have been vaccinated, ask a close friend to get you out of town as soon as possible and take you home or to the hospital (if you are seriously unwell). Or call a friend, relative or partner and ask them to pick you up.

  • If you feel unsafe, vulnerable or threatened, you can ask for help by contacting the venue staff and asking for “Angela”. This code set will indicate to staff that you need assistance and a trained member of staff will then assist and assist you.

  • Make sure you can trust the person you ask for help and don’t go anywhere with a stranger or acquaintance.

  • Once you are safely home, ask someone to stay with you until the drug wears off, which can take several hours.

  • Call medical help if you need it and tell the police what happened.

Zara Owen, a student at the University of Nottingham, told MPs she woke up with “sharp pains” in her leg after a night’s sleep.

She said she had no memory of the night before but could see a “pin prick” from a needle on her skin.

She said she reported the incident to police to raise awareness of the novel spiking method.

None of the three victims said they were later the target of a sexual or financial crime, leading Ms Owen to conclude that “some people might just do it for fun”.

Committee member Tim Loughton, the Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, said spiking was sadistic.

“It has to be treated the same as if someone walked up to you in a nightclub and slapped you in the face. The effects are the same,” he said.

The three victims who spoke at Wednesday’s hearing all agreed that an anonymous online reporting tool should be put in place.

The Committee’s inquiry is accepted proof until January 19th.

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