The night I had my drink spiked
Read Molly’s story about drink spiking
Drink spiking is something none of us should have to deal with. However, sadly it’s a risk that many young people (and especially young women) face when they go out to bars, clubs, or parties. If this is something that has happened to you, you’re not alone and we’re here to listen and to talk. Get in touch with our team for free and confidential support.
We spoke to 24-year old Molly Gorman, a writer and editor based in London, currently working as Media & Stories Officer at Bliss. Molly had her drink spiked whilst out in London in the summer of 2021, and she was kind enough to share her experiences with us.
Can you tell us about the night you had your drink spiked?
One night in August 2021, I went out in Brixton with two of my friends, to one of my favourite venues. I was having an amazing night, dancing and singing my heart out. Little did I know that in just a few hours I would be unconscious, strapped into an ambulance after violently vomiting uncontrollably. I woke up in A&E at 4am with my best friend slumped in a chair by my bedside, a cannula inserted into my arm and a nurse measuring my blood pressure and heart rate every 30 minutes.
According to my friends, I was absolutely fine one minute, and the next I was really poorly. The last thing I remember is that I was slouched on the side of the road, unable to stand or even lift my head. I had a security guard holding my hair back on one side and one of my friends supporting my posture on the other, whilst my other friend desperately tried to flail down an Uber driver that would actually let me into their car. Everything after that is a huge blank.
How did the incident make you feel?
I was so emotional after it happened, I couldn’t stop crying. I had a lot of anxiety and felt really vulnerable. I was also in so much physical pain from the vomiting and had a huge strain in my neck and back because I wasn’t able to hold myself up.
At first, I also kept asking myself I was just being careless with my drink, even though I know that it wasn’t my fault. I also worried that people would just assume that I was too drunk, and not believe that my drink was actually spiked.
Have you had any support for what has happened since?
I haven’t had any support from services, only my family and friends. I would definitely suggest talking to someone professionally about it though because it took me a while to feel comfortable going out again. Even now I don’t really buy drinks in a busy club or bar – I prefer to have shots unless I have a lid to cover my drink.
Taking my time really helped, and I didn’t put pressure on myself. My friends have all been very understanding and patient and have also used drinks lids when they’ve been out with me to make me feel more comfortable.
Have you felt able to go out to bars and clubs again since it happened?
I have, mainly because I didn’t want this experience to hold me back and prevent me from having fun. I knew the longer I chose not to go out, the harder I would find it when I felt ready to – but I would say to take all the time you need and maybe build yourself up slowly, because the experience can be really traumatic. Perhaps start with a quiet trip to the pub with people you trust, see how you feel and go from there.
Has this also happened to anyone else you know?
Yes! A lot of women have since shared their experiences with me, one of whom got spiked just a week before me – it’s so awful that it’s so common, especially now that there’s a lot of younger women going clubbing for the first time now that restrictions have been lifted. Women shouldn’t have to be so vigilant, but sadly not enough is being done to protect us.
Did you report the incident and if so, can you tell us a bit about that experience?
I did report the incident, only to the venue and not the police. The venue did absolutely nothing about it, which comes as no surprise. I assumed that nothing would be done, but had a small hope that they may keep an eye on CCTV footage, or offer drinks lids to women at the bar. My friend actually told me that the bouncer who was helping me told us not to report it – it’s horrific that women’s safety isn’t a priority.
What do you think needs to be done about the issue?
Rather than merely telling women to take extra precautions, we should make venues safer for women by implementing preventative measures, identifying and reporting offenders, and demanding that those offenders are held accountable for their actions. The charge for spiking someone’s drink carries a maximum ten-year prison sentence, however this clearly isn’t enough to stop someone from doing it as the chance of getting caught is so slim.
We need to drive conversations around drink spiking, as there is a new wave of young women who are starting to go clubbing for the first time after the pandemic. For those 18, 19 and 20-year-olds who haven’t been exposed to this environment before or who might not be aware of the risks, it’s important that they know that this is a real and threatening issue for women across most cities in the UK.
Who is responsible for the changes that are needed?
Bars, nightclubs and the government.
Nightclubs and bars should offer protective lids for glasses and even bottle toppers as a compulsory measure. Their security teams and bouncers should be actively implementing a zero-tolerance sexual harassment policy, policing predatory men and actually taking action when we disclose harassment to them, alongside crawling spaces with CCTV cameras. Legislation should be put in place to support this.
What advice would you give to anyone who is worried about drink spiking?
Firstly, I’m so sorry that you’re worried about this – I really wish we didn’t have to think about it! My advice would be to just be very vigilant with your drinks – never leave it unattended, watch it being poured by the bartender, don’t accept drinks from strangers, always hold it close to you and take a drinks lid with you if you’re worried (a lot of bars don’t offer them, but they are available online!), especially if you’re on a busy dance floor. The drinks lids are very secure and would most likely put someone off spiking your drink because it would be easier for them to get caught.
I know that this seems like an exhaustive list, but if you follow these steps then you should be able to have fun and stay safe. If you’re still worried, please reach out for further support.
If you need support for spiking
Read The Mix’s guide to understanding drink spiking.
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Updated on 22-Dec-2021
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