Trigger warning: spiking and sexual assault

With reports of spiking and protests and boycotts of bars taking place in the UK, spiking has been on the minds of many people, on and off-island. With many women reporting spiking via needle on social media, figures were released that revealed that 56 incidents of spiking by injection and 198 incidents of spiking were recorded by forces across England, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland. 

‘The vague memory of walking to the bed was the last thing I remembered’.

On-island, there have been four reported spikings this year, according to Victim Support. We spoke to one woman, Jenny, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, who shared her story with Gef of being spiked twenty years ago.

‘My night out began as a gathering of friends all heading out to enjoy the festivities that TT week brings to Douglas.

‘We had a fabulous night filled with laughs, meeting up with others, clubbing, dancing, and touring the many great bars we had back then.

‘I remember we bumped into some male ‘friends’ of one of my friends and it was agreed that we would all continue the night at the campsite at Blackberry Lane, on the perimeter of Douglas. Drinks were flowing, music was playing and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

‘I remember feeling very tired whilst sitting in the camper with a few others which I found odd. I’m a 90’s girl so becoming tired wasn’t something that ever happened during a party of all things. I vaguely remember being walked into a room at the back of the camper and placed on the bed. I have no idea where my friends were at this time. The vague memory of walking to the bed was the last thing I remembered.’

When Jenny came around, she was being raped by a complete stranger. She could not move or speak. She then passed out again. When she came around again, she was being raped by a second man. Realising what was happening, she was able to get him off her, and then scurried to find her clothes. She was able to find her underwear, top and shoes, she tried to find her skirt- but was unable to find it. Needing to get out of there, Jenny ran, half dressed and thankfully managed to flag down a taxi.

The taxi driver wanted to take Jenny to the police station, but Jenny wanted to be taken home. Later that day, she called a friend, who took her to the hospital.

Unfortunately, at the hospital, Jenny found that she was treated with ‘disdain and judgement’. She was asked whether she ‘was sure [the attack] was not consensual’. A drug test revealed that they could only find cannabis in her system.

The drugs used to spike

According to Victim Support Isle of Man, the most commonly used drugs are Rohypnol and GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate). These can be odorless, tasteless and can leave the body within a short space of time, which can make them hard to detect.

Victim Support also highlights that recreational drugs such as ketamine and ecstasy can be used to spike people.

The aftermath of spiking

Having had a traumatic experience at the hospital, Jenny refused the offer of a rape kit, wanting to leave the extremely upsetting situation. Because of this treatment, she never reported the incident to the police. She said ‘If the nurses wouldn’t believe me, how on earth were the police going to?’

Jenny tried to ‘continue on with [her] life, trying my best to chalk it down to experience and move on”, until she found out she was pregnant from the rape. She described it as the ‘most heart wrenching experience of [her] life. [She] was nine weeks pregnant with a child [she] never planned for, had no idea who the father was, because they both got away with what they did to [her], and no financial stability to bring this child into the world’. 

Jenny went to see her GP regarding options and to seek support and information on having an abortion. With abortion being illegal on the island on the time, her GP was “horrified” at the thought, being aware of how she got pregnant. Jenny had to raise almost £1000 to allow her to go to Liverpool for the procedure, which added further stress and trauma to the situation. ‘Having an abortion went against everything I believe in, but I was left with no choice as the conception was created from rape’, she said.

Jenny’s experience left her feeling that none of the services around her cared, and that she was completely alone. 

In a statement, the police said that ’Spiking’ is an issue that should not exist. Here on the Isle of Man we take any offences of this nature seriously and would encourage any person who believes they have been a victim of ‘Spiking’ to report it to the police.’

What is being done about spiking?

In a press release, the Police responded to the issue of spiking being highlighted in the UK by offering the following advice: 

  • Never lose sight of your drink. Do not leave it unattended when you go to dance or to the toilet.
  • Be vigilant if you’re drinking with people you don’t know or have just met.
  • Be a drink buddy. If you’re out with a friend or friends, keep an eye out for them.
  • Throw away your drink if you think it tastes odd and make the venue management aware
  • If you think you have been spiked, or you start to feel strange, sick or drunk when you know that you couldn’t be drunk, seek help from a friend or again the venue management.

For further advice, they sent the following link: https://www.talktofrank.com/news/spiking

The police have also said that ‘The Isle of Man Constabulary always monitor trends to be prepared and we are working with our local licensees to make sure this isn’t a trend that takes hold on the island.’

Jenny said that ‘should pubs & clubs take more responsibility and search people thoroughly for drugs when entering a premises? I do not know the answer to this question. What I do know is that having my drink spiked led to dire consequences for me, and left me completely at the mercy of those who inflicted this on me.’

If you’ve been a victim of spiking

Victim Support IOM have said that if you are a victim of spiking, you can seek emotional and practical support by calling 679950 or email enquiries@victimsupport.im to book an appointment with their welfare team. 

You can also speak to the Ellan Vannin Victims Service. The charity supports victims of sexual violence on the island and can be contacted on Facebook, by email evvscontact@gmail.com or by calling 455928. 

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