What to do if You’ve Been Sexually Assaulted After Your Drink was Spiked

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Kate Hall

Solicitor, Abuse

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Did you watch the BBC Documentary: “Catching a Predator”? It explored the crimes of Reynhard Sinaga, a student from Indonesia who raped 206 men over the course of two years, after spiking their drinks with Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB). Many of Sinaga’s victims had been so heavily spiked that they could not recall the assaults. It remains the biggest rape case in British Legal History.

Then there’s serial rapist and murderer Stephen Port who killed four men and raped multiple men using GHB between 2014 and 2015.

According to research, up to 15% of women and 7% of men have had their drinks spiked with either alcohol or drugs. This has increased by 50% over the last four years and in just two months the police will receive, on average, around 200 drink spiking incident reports.

Statistics show that 92% of participants in the Alcohol Education Trust (AET) poll for young adults aged between 16 to 25 on drink spiking did not report being a victim, with 14% worried that they wouldn’t be taken seriously, 8% thought there wasn’t enough proof of spiking and 11% believing it was too late to report.

Furthermore, 77% of young people have reported having an alcoholic drink spiked, in contrast to 23% who had an alcohol-free drink spiked. This shows that any drink can be spiked, regardless if there’s alcohol or not inside the glass.

The NPPC reported that 64% of spiking incidents happen on weekends, with 59% in pubs, bars or clubs and 7% at private premises.

What’s even more shocking about these statistics is that 21% of drink spiking incidents end in some sort of sexual assault, like rape.

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What Is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is any sexual act without consent or where a person is forced into the act against their will. In addition, sexual assault or violence can happen to anybody of any age.

Consensual sex only happens when all the people involved in the sexual activity agree to partake by choice. Also, those involved need to be given the freedom to make these choices for it to be consensual.

Furthermore, being intoxicated does not mean that consent was given. When consent is not given, that’s sexual assault, and this is a crime. As with any other crime, sexual assault can be reported to the police.

Statistics show that most sexual assaults happen by someone who is known to the victim, including former partners, current partners, colleagues, friends or relatives. Additionally, sexual assault can happen anywhere.

What is Drink Spiking?

Drink spiking is when someone puts drugs or alcohol into a person’s drink, without them knowing, with the sole intention of making them vulnerable to violence, theft, or sexual assault.

When drugs or alcohol are used to spike someone’s drink, it can often sedate or disable them, leaving them weak, defenceless and exposed to predators. The effects of spiking can happen within minutes. Most victims of spiking are completely unaware that it has happened to them and may have little memory of the incident.

Drink spikers tend to use alcohol or the following types of drugs to spike their victims’ drinks:

  • common date rape drugs like Rohypnol (or Roofie) and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB);
  • recreational drugs like Ecstasy, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), or Ketamine;
  • prescription drugs like tranquilisers, sedatives, or opiates.

What Happens to you When Your Drink is Spiked?

One of the biggest reasons why drink spiking is so common and so incredibly dangerous is because you won’t usually know it’s happened to you until it’s too late.

Your drink will taste, look and smell exactly the same: You’ll have no idea that someone has put something in it until the effects of the drugs or alcohol have seeped into your bloodstream, which usually takes between 15 – 30 minutes.

Spiking can also happen by injection, so be aware of any sudden sharp pains. In this case, inspect the area and check if there is an injection site.

In most cases, the first time you’ll know you’ve been spiked is when you start to experience symptoms like these:

  • lowered inhibitions;
  • dizziness or loss of balance;
  • feeling sleepy;
  • blurry vision;
  • severe confusion;
  • nausea;
  • vomiting;
  • unconsciousness.

What to Do if You’ve Been Sexually Assaulted After Your Drink Was Spiked

One of the most tragic things about this drink spiking epidemic is that only 8% of those that have been raped or abused after being spiked, will report it to the police.

The majority of people either feel too ashamed, can’t really remember what happened, or even blame themselves for not keeping an eye on their drink.

If you’ve been sexually assaulted after your drink was spiked, you must report it to the police as soon as you can. This will hopefully allow you to get justice for what they did to you, but also prevents them from being able to do this to someone else.

Most date rape drugs will leave your system within 72 hours (GHB will actually leave your body within 12) so it’s crucial that you go to the police as soon as you can so they can capture the evidence.

Helping a Friend Who You Think Has Been Spiked

If you believe that a friend has been spiked, then there are some advisable steps to take:

  • Alert a member of staff immediately, such as the bar manager or security staff.
  • Stay with them and keep them talking, if possible, to ensure they’re alert and awake.
  • Liaise with the staff to ensure the police are alerted, and an ambulance is called. The police should be contacted via 101 or by 999 in an emergency.
  • Stop them from going home alone or leaving with someone you do not trust or know.
  • Stop them from drinking any more alcohol as it could lead to further problems.

Acting fast and taking the situation seriously could help to save a friend from further potentially dangerous situations.

Is There Anything I can do to Stop my Drink from Being Spiked?

Although it’s difficult to know if your drink has been spiked, there are several things you can do to protect yourself:

  • never leave your drink unattended; alcoholic, or not.
  • don't accept a drink from someone you don't know;
  • consider sticking to bottled drinks; and avoid the temptation of sharing drinks
  • avoid jugs of cocktails.

It sounds obvious but always tell someone, like a friend or relative, where you’re going on a night out. Don’t tell strangers where you live, and if you think your drink might have been tampered with, don’t drink it.

In such cases, immediately tell someone you trust and report your concerns to the bar staff and the police.

In addition, always be cautious of anyone being too friendly or eager to offer you a drink. Try to stick close to friends or trusted people you went out with, and also watch out for each other, as drink spiking can happen to anyone at any time.

If you’ve been raped or sexually abused after having your drink spiked, please remember that it was not your fault, and you are not to blame.

A Guide to Help

  • Contact the Police via 101 or by 999 in an emergency.
  • Contact the emergency ambulance service by 999.
  • Contact the nearest SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) here.
  • Contact your GP or practice nurse for an appointment.
  • Voluntary organisations may be able to help. Including Women’s Aid, Male Survivors Partnership, Rape Crises, to name a few.
  • Call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 (24-hour freephone number).
  • Contact Rape Crisis England and Wales, who can be reached via online chat or by phone on 0808 500 2222.
  • Visit the nearest hospital and go to the emergency department.
  • Visit the nearest GUM (Genitourinary Medicine) or sexual health clinic.
  • Contact the NHS via online chat or call 101.

References:

Author(s): Katie Hill

Publication Date: 23rd March 2022

Title: What to Do if You’ve Been Sexually Assaulted After Your Drink Was Spiked

Unknown, Unknown. (2022). "Drink-spiking is at ‘epidemic’ levels in UK, campaigners tell MPs" The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/jan/12/drink-spiking-uk-campaigners-mps-inquiry

Walker, A. (2022). "Drink and drug spiking reports to UK police forces rise by 50% in 4 years but very few led to criminal action" News.co.uk, https://inews.co.uk/news/spiking-uk-police-forces-see-rise-in-reports-but-fraction-led-to-criminal-action-1367001

Head, A. (2021). "Drink spiking” search is up 809% - everything you need to know about the UK spiking surge" Marie Claire, https://www.marieclaire.co.uk/life/health-fitness/drink-spiking-753050

Unknown, Unknown. (Unknown). "The Alcohol Education Trust release survey findings on young people and their experience of drink spiking" Alcohol Education Trust, 

https://alcoholeducationtrust.org/drink-spiking-survey/

Unknown, Unknown. (2022). "Potential victims of spiking urged to report to police and get tested quickly as nearly 5,000 reports of spiking are made within a year" NPCC, 

https://news.npcc.police.uk/releases/potential-victims-of-spiking-urged-to-report-to-police-and-get-tested-quickly-as-nearly-5-000-reports-of-spiking-are-made-within-a-year

Unknown, Unknown. (2022). "The Risks and Dangers of Spiked Drinks and Date Rape Drugs" Desert Hope Treatment Center, 

https://deserthopetreatment.com/addiction-guide/polydrug-use/spiked-drinks-date-rape-drugs/

Unknown, Unknown. (Unknown). "What is Rohypnol?" Drugwise, https://www.drugwise.org.uk/1393-2/

Unknown, Unknown. (Unknown). "Sexual and Physical Abuse Claims" Simpson Millar, https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/abuse-claims-solicitors/

Unknown, Unknown. (Unknown). "Find rape and sexual assault referral centres" NHS, https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/other-health-services/rape-and-sexual-assault-referral-centres

Unknown, Unknown. (Unknown). "If something doesn’t feel right in your relationship, it probably isn’t" Women's Aid, https://chat.womensaid.org.uk/

Unknown, Unknown. (Unknown). "Male Survivors Partnership is here to end sexual violence against men and boys" Male Survivor Partnership, https://malesurvivor.co.uk/

Unknown, Unknown. (Unknown). "We're here for you" Rape Crisis England and Wales, https://rapecrisis.org.uk/

Unknown, Unknown. (Unknown). "Are you experiencing domestic abuse? You are not alone" National Domestic Abuse Helpline, https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/

Unknown, Unknown. (Unknown). "24/7 Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Line" Rape Crisis England and Wales, https://247sexualabusesupport.org.uk

Kate Hall

Solicitor, Abuse

Areas of Expertise:
Abuse Claims

Kate works as a Solicitor in our Abuse Claims Department.

After completing her education at Leeds Beckett University in 2018, Kate decided to specialise in Abuse Claims. Within this department, she has gained experience dealing with Civil Claims against various institutions including local authorities, public schools, religious institutions and charitable organisations. This includes the Manchester Homes 2 Group Action and the claims against Manchester City Council for abuse at St Anne’s School. Kate has also successfully navigated claims through the Lambeth and Manchester City Redress Schemes.

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