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Dangers of Spiking in Bar 13 by Emily Byfield-Riches

A year on, I can still scarcely remember the events of that night. Any memories I do have are merely borrowed from my friend’s accounts of the evening; friends that I was so incredibly lucky to have with me at the time. I remember Freshers Week. Vodka and cranberry juice at Bar Thirteen, a man named ‘Tom’ who bought me a drink and a stranger that swiped my phone from my hands in an effort to distract me. I remember Dappy on stage, I remember a smiling barmaid and a trip to the toilet, exclaiming to a friend that I felt peculiar and, finally, collapsing onto the stairs while the club thudded away beneath us. I could not hear or speak to anyone: I was a vomiting, disorientated, semi-conscious mess, highly entertaining to the friends that, at first, thought I’d had too much to drink. Four hours of vomiting later and a visit from the paramedics confirmed that whatever had happened to me was not a laughing matter. The next morning, I was confused, tearful and horrified that I could have let myself fall victim to having my drink spiked. I thought I was an experienced-enough drinker to know my way around a club, and yet, I could not remember anything after the toilet-trip that night, and if that alone wasn’t enough to terrify me, the news that I had been visited by paramedics surely did. Up until that day, the worse outcome I could think of when it came to clubbing was a hangover. I spent the rest of Freshers Week in my flat, terrified of alcohol. I was later told that the place I was supposedly spiked in Bar Thirteen was ‘notorious’ for it’s druggings, as it very nicely avoided the CCTV cameras. It has taken me months to trust myself and others in clubs again, and only recently - a whole year later - have I been able to revisit Bar Thirteen. I am still, sometimes, paranoid. Yet, I was a lucky one. I was fortunate enough to come away physically unharmed. If it weren’t for the watchful eye of friends, who knows where I would be today, what would have happened to me - the possibilities are truly terrifying.

... 4 out of 5 reported negative outcomes including sexual assault, ‘blacking out’ and nausea.

Because, while I am a ‘lucky’ one, there are thousands of students who do not escape these situations unscathed. A study published in the journal, Psychology of Violence, suggested that, in a survey of 6,064 students, 1 in 13 of those students reported being drugged non-consensually. Out of these victims, 4 out of 5 reported negative outcomes including sexual assault, ‘blacking out’ and nausea. The scale and severity of this phenomenon is astounding. Almost as astounding as the lack of coverage it appears to receive. That’s at least 1,153 out of the 15,000 students here at Surrey. And it’s not just at Surrey that student’s face this threat: newspapers all around the country are reporting a ‘date rape crisis’ facing Universities. In an article in 2017, The Independent claimed that Bristol police were investigating a “spate of drink-spiking” greeting new students as they arrived at University, with the BBC and The Telegraph publishing similarly-titled articles. It’s achingly obvious that there is a drink-spiking epidemic, hiding beneath the thrill and fun of student life.

That’s not to say I wish to suck all the fun out of Freshers; party-hard, make friends, snog randomers all you like. But, please, watch your drink. Don’t put it down, don’t leave it unattended. Watch your friend’s drinks too and acknowledge that the danger is out there. As saddening as it is, Freshers can behave as a hunting ground for predators and you won’t know until it hits you. Party ‘hard’ but, also, party ‘sensible’ and stay safe out there, Surrey.

Credits:

Created with images by Michael Discenza - "Closeup of drinks at the club"

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