Going out at night can happen to anyone, victims tell lawmakers

Lawmakers have been told that those who inject alcohol or intoxicate others do not discriminate.

Speaking to the Select Committee on Home Affairs in Parliament, the victims said that the notion that spiking is exclusively for young women or for sexual or financial gratification is wrong.

Hannah Stratton, 51, of Newquay, Cornwall, described how she was unintentionally drugged while enjoying a couple glasses of wine with friends at a quiet local venue.

“I had no ability to keep my upper body up—my legs were like lead,” she said. Her friends helped her get a taxi home, but she said she felt the driver judged her for appearing drunk.

Ms Stratton said self-doubt and “overwhelming shame” meant she felt unable to report the harrowing experience to police after the effects were over.

“You just feel so disgusted with yourself”, she said. “It takes a long time to process this incident 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 “too old” to target herself.

When she posted about the incident on social media, nearly 100 people “of all ages and both genders” contacted her to share similar experiences.

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

Alexey Skatinis from South Wales told how he was made to drink during a night out in Las Vegas. He said he was disoriented, unable to move his hands and was alone in a place he didn’t know. He was later admitted to the hospital due to kidney and liver problems.

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

Advice and guidance on spiking, both drink and injection, is available from open you,

Organization says:

  • If you begin to feel awkward, sick, or drunk when you know you can’t get drunk, seek help from a trusted friend or venue management.

  • If you think you have been hurt, see a close friend to evacuate you as soon as possible and take you home or hospital (if seriously unwell). Or call a friend, relative or partner and ask them to come and pick you up.

  • If you feel unsafe, unsafe or at risk you can ask for help by contacting the venue staff and asking them for ‘Angela’. This code-phrase indicates 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 at home, have someone stay with you until the effect of the medicine wears off, which could be for several hours.

  • Call for medical help if needed and tell the police what happened.

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

She said she had no memory of the previous evening, but could see a “pinprick mark” from a needle on her skin.

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

None of the three victims said they had subsequently been the target of a sex or financial crime, leading Ms Owen to conclude that “some people may just be doing it for the thrill”.

East Worthing and Shoreham Conservative MP Committee member Tim Lawton said the spiking was tragic.

“It needs to be treated the same way someone comes up to you in a nightclub and punches you in the face. The implications are the same”, he said.

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

The committee’s investigation is considering evidence until 19 January.

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