Woman Who Got Spiked By Injection In Nightclub Recalls Last Thing She Remembers
There are few formative experiences more exciting than turning 18 and, finally, heading out to a nightclub with your mates for the very first time.
Sadly, this first innocent blast of freedom is all too often tempered by the terror of what might happen should you encounter the wrong sort of person, with warnings passed down to us from older friends or siblings.
University of Leeds student Joscelin Story has ‘always been aware’ of concerns over spiking, having had an older sister navigate the world of clubbing before her. Now she, alongside many other young people across UK campuses, have decided to take a stand.
Joscelin, who is currently in the second year of an International Relations degree, told UNILAD she had been quite ‘apprehensive’ before going out clubbing for the first time, having already heard ‘so many horror stories’ about being spiked.
Now Joscelin, alongside fellow Leeds undergraduates Isabelle Davis and Izzy Broadhurst, has joined the student-led boycott of clubs via the campaign Girls Night In, propelled by the ethos that ‘everyone deserves to feel safe on a night out’.
Unfolding in student cities nationwide, the Girls Night In movement is intended to highlight the issue of safety in nightclubs, amid worrying recent reports of club goers being spiked with needles.
Officers in Nottinghamshire, West Yorkshire and parts of Scotland are reportedly investigating alleged incidents involving spiking injections, while many people have come forward to share their own personal stories via social media.
Izzy, who studies media and communication, told UNILAD:
Every night out, you are concerned about it. Especially in recent weeks, it has felt like such a bigger threat.
Determined to take action, on Monday, October 18, the students set up an anonymous space for spiking survivors to share their personal stories, and have already heard accounts from more than 100 people.
According to Joscelin, a number of these stories have included claims of ‘mistreatment from bouncers’ as well as nightclubs ‘completely ignoring sexual assault and not punishing perpetrators of sexual assault’.
Harrowingly, the students also heard from those who’ve claimed to have previously been ‘kicked out of clubs’ after having been spiked, rather than given any sort of help, putting them ‘in a vulnerable position’.
Such concerns have long been raised in university cities. Nearly a decade on from my first experiences at clubs, I can recall all too well the venues you were told to avoid, the bouncers who couldn’t be trusted.
The Alcohol Education Trust reports that there’s always been a surge in spiking during the autumn term, a time when so many are living miles away from home for the first time.
But this isn’t something that remains static over time; according to official police figures, the number of reported drink spiking incidents had more than doubled in the three years between 2015 to 2018 – a truly alarming statistic.
Furthermore, the UK has recently seen a disturbing increase in the number of women being injected with so-called ‘date rape’ drugs while on nights out, a rise which has highlighted new dangers many of us hadn’t even conceived of.
UNILAD spoke with Vic, an 18-year-old criminology student at Abertay University. Originally from Edinburgh, Vic moved to Dundee to study, and like all young people should have felt completely safe heading out for a dance and a few drinks after lectures.
Horrifyingly, Vic’s confidence has now been left severely shaken after she was spiked by an unknown perpetrator at Dundee’s Underground nightclub on Sunday, October 17.
Although Vic had been aware a week earlier that there ‘was already a case of spiking via injection in a different pub in Dundee and in various clubs in Edinburgh’, she had, in her words, ‘never once thought that it could happen to me’.
‘The last thing I remember from that night was dancing with three of my friends after visiting the bar,’ Vic recalled. ‘The club was fairly busy that night however I left my friends for five minutes to go for a cigarette.’
The next thing Vic remembers is waking up ‘in the club toilets completely floored, locked in a stall’ while a staff member banged on the door, ‘ordering’ her ‘to get out the club’.
All Vic remembers from this nightmarish episode was ‘feeling completely paralysed when I tried to stand’. The symptoms reported here by Vic are common among those who’ve been spiked, with such substances often resulting in confusion, nausea, vomiting, loss of balance and unconsciousness.
Vic first realised that something was seriously wrong when she felt she needed to be sick and ‘ended up throwing up black in the toilet’.
Unfortunately, Vic feels that Underground employees ‘were widely unhelpful’ during her terrifying situation, and ‘were very adamant on just getting me out of the club instead of checking on my wellbeing’.
Furthermore, Vic claims two of her friends were also spiked while at Underground that same night, with the three of them having to be physically carried home by their flatmates.
Once home, the unsettling symptoms only continued, as Vic recalled:
That night I suffered an extreme panic attack which my whole flat had to witness and was completely out of it until I finally passed out at around 5am. The next morning, I slept through the fire alarm test that happens every Monday, which was extremely alarming to me.
Like many others before her, Vic made the decision not to report her ordeal to the police, having reportedly known other women in Dundee who’ve not been ‘taken seriously’ by officers.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know the true extent of drink spiking cases in the UK, with many survivors choosing to never come forward due to a number of reasons, including memory loss, shame, or mistrust of the police.
Vic is yet to fully recover from her experience, and still suffers pain in her left arm where she was injected that night.
In the initial few days following her ordeal, Vic was left ‘completely floored’, unable to get out of bed. As the local hospitals were too full to take her in, she also didn’t receive any medical treatment.
Devastatingly, like far too many who’ve been subjected to such violations, the fear may well continue once the physical pain has faded.
‘I don’t even know how to stay more vigilant because I thought I was doing all I could do before,’ Vic admitted. ‘Unfortunately that is now not the case and the thought of going out again terrifies me’.
I don’t think there is enough support for women or even men when on a night out. Bouncers, staff and even emergency services don’t take you seriously because they automatically assume the victim has just had too much to drink which is usually not the case.
Considering their own hopes for change going forward, the Leeds University branch of Girls Night In has already heard from clubs that intend to introduce drinks covers and testing kits onsite, items set to be ‘free and available to everyone’.
Rather than increase security at venues (which some may understandably find threatening) they’re keen to ‘push for more tolerance’, ensuring that members of staff are equipped to deal with such traumatic situations.
They also hope to introduce mental health areas where those who’ve been spiked can ‘sober up’ and receive appropriate help before getting medical attention.
A petition set up to introduce ‘a legal requirement for nightclubs to thoroughly search guests on entry’ has clocked up almost 160,000 signatures at the time of writing, far more than the figure needed before a parliamentary debate can take place.
Set up by 24-year-old Glaswegian Hannah Thomson amid the widespread rise in spiking incidents, it’s clear this cause has struck a chord with those who’ve ever felt scared for their safety while on a night out.
UNILAD has reached out to the Underground nightclub in Dundee and Police Scotland for comment.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 between 12pm–2.30pm and 7pm– 9.30pm every day. Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas
Male Survivors Partnership is available to support adult male survivors of sexual abuse and rape. You can contact the organisation on their website or on their free helpline 0808 800 5005, open 9am–5pm Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays; 8am–8pm Tuesdays and Thursdays; 10am–2pm Saturdays
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