"All of a sudden I couldn't see properly. I could barely speak, everything felt blurry. I was terrified. I had no idea what was happening or how it could have happened so quickly."
Those were the words of a 22-year-old woman on Ocean St in Maroochydore, whose drink was spiked over the weekend. She told us that she didn't remember anything after that point in the night, and was only thankful she was able to make it home safely.
"I was scared to go out for a long time after that," she said.
Another woman told COBRA: "I had a nosebleed and a pulsating heart. High anxiety. I was able to remove myself from the venue and go home. I never called the bar, and only realised after the fact that it happened when I put my drink down on the drinks tray to go outside to the smoking area. The tray was near a security guard so I thought they were safe."
Drink spiking is both dangerous and frighteningly common. Although exact stats are impossible to gauge (as it's an underreported crime), it's thought to occur thousands of times per year in Australia 🤯
It also appears to be on the rise on the Sunshine Coast, making it more important than ever to look out for yourself and your friends. This issue is not just local; according to the Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia, there's been a spike in calls to the hot line.
CEO Hayley Foster said, “Drink spiking and stealthing are two things that have been on the rise. We had a quiet period during COVID lockdown with less people out and about (which means there's less of those date rape situations), but now that the floodgates are open, we aren't seeing any signs of abatement which is really concerning."
This is a very big issue, as roughly 1 in 3 incidents are associated with sexual assault.
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF YOUR DRINK HAS BEEN SPIKED?
One of the most dangerous things about drink spiking is that it can be difficult to identity, particularly if you're already intoxicated, as the drug or extra alcohol in your drink could be colourless, odourless and tasteless.
That being said, there are a few key warning signs to watch for which include:
👉🏼 Feeling dizzy or faint
👉🏼 Feeling ill or sleepy
👉🏼 Feeeling drunk even if you've only had a little bit of alcohol to drink
👉🏼 Passing out
👉🏼 Waking up feeling uncomfortable and confused, with memory blanks about the night before
As always, prevention is best! We recommend the following basic self defence protocols:
👉🏼 Always trust your instincts! If your gut tells you someone seems shady, listen to it. If your uncertain whether your drink may have been tampered with, don’t drink it. If you suspect your drink has been spiked, tell someone.
👉🏼 Strength in numbers! Don’t go out alone, don’t allow yourself to get isolated from your friends, never leave a party or venue by yourself and ensure someone always knows your whereabouts at all times.
👉🏼 Stay aware! It’s important to always know your surroundings and know them well. Take note of people and places. Watch the bar tender make your drink, or choose a pre-bottled variety and watch it be opened. Keep an eye on your drink and don’t leave it unattended. Watch out for your friends. Watch out for suspicious characters. Know where security guards are, where exists are, where your friends are.
👉🏼 Be empowered! You should know basic self defence techniques and strategies to ensure your safety and to escape potentially dangerous situations. Never allow yourself to be over-powered or taken advantage of simply because you were incapable of fighting back. Always resist, and ideally arm yourself with the knowledge of how to do so well.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOUR DRINK HAS BEEN SPIKED?
In the unfortunate circumstance that your drink has been tampered with:
👉🏼 Ask someone you trust to help you get to a safe place
👉🏼 If you're not out with people you trust, talk to one of the venue staff or security
👉🏼 If you feel really unwell or have been sexually assaulted, go to an emergency department or the nearest hospital
👉🏼Ask your doctor to test for the presence of drugs – urine or blood tests can pick up traces of certain drugs up to 24 hours later
👉🏼 Report the incident to the police
WHAT CAN WE DO BETTER TO PROTECT VICTIMS OF DRINK SPIKING?
Right now, Australia and Sunshine Coast law enforcement are not doing a great job of holding people accountable who are committing this offence. In addition, the under-reporting of drink spiking is a problem, but this is of course a reactive response rather than a proactive one. We can hone in on licensed venues and examine their safety measures, but on an individual level it all comes back to looking after ourselves and the people around us as best we can.
Be safe. Be aware. Be empowered.
If you see something that doesn't look or feel quite right, report it to staff or security and remove yourself from the situation. You just never know, your gut instinct might be the difference between someone encountering a potentially traumatic situation, or them getting home safely.
Because one victim is too many 👊🏼
If you would like more information about our upcoming Ladies-Only Self Defence Course, please comment below or email us today. We offer both public and private courses to small and large groups across Australia. We’d love to help you, or a woman you love, to be safer and stronger today 💪🏼