A woman’s heart ‘sank’ when she examined her leg closely following a night out and discovered she had been
Samantha was out in Liverpool when she had a “scary” experience which she described as “memory block”, losing the hours from her memory.
Speaking to the Liverpool ECHO, she said: “I’ve never felt this memory block ever in my life, where one minute I’m in the club and the next it’s the next day.”
The 26-year-old, who asked to only be identified by her first name, spotted a “purple and green” bruise on her leg the following morning.
She said: “My first thought was, ‘I must have fell or bumped into something’. Your first, initial thought is not someone violating you.
“You don’t go to the worst case scenario. I glanced at the bruise and just put my clothes back on.”
A closer inspection revealed a small bump with a hole near the middle of the bruise.
To Samantha, it looked like a “needle puncture”, leading her to suspect she’d been “injected with some substance”.
The mental health worker said: “It’s like that bit in horror movies when your heart sinks, and then you feel stupid as well because you feel like you should’ve realised. I feel like I’ve been too trusting and too naïve, but the whole time, red flags were in my face.”
By the time Samantha began to realise what had really happened, it was a week after the night itself.
She went to hospital, but it was too late to gather crucial medical evidence.
The 72-hour window for taking PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), which can stop you from contracting HIV after being exposed to the virus, had also passed.
Although it’s possible to contract HIV from unsterilised needles, the “fragile virus” can’t survive long outside the body.
This means “getting HIV from a needle injury is extremely rare”, with “no confirmed cases of HIV infections from needle stick injuries in the UK since 1999”, according to the National AIDS Trust.
Treatments have advanced to the point where medication suppresses the virus to such an extent people live long, healthy lives and cannot pass the virus from one person to the next.
But Samantha still faces a three-month wait to know for certain whether she’s been exposed to any virus or disease.
She said: “It’s something I worry about every day now.”
She reported the suspected spiking to Merseyside Police on Sunday, August 28, but she then withdrew her support for the investigation because of stress.
She also felt the investigation wouldn’t progress due to the lack of medical evidence.
Merseyside Police told the ECHO this move would result in the investigation being closed, but, urging witnesses to come forward, the force said it will reinvestigate the case “should any new evidence or information come to light”.
Samantha hasn’t been out since the realisation dawned on her, and she can’t see herself doing so any time soon.
“It’s just scary. I’m never going to be able to let my hair down again in a nightclub or somewhere busy and dark,” she said.
“It’s just not going to be the same experience.”
The 26-year-old added: “I just feel really powerless and sad. I feel like this has happened to me and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m only feeling better because I’m trying to campaign against it and I’m using my time to do that instead.”
Samantha decided to share posts on Instagram, highlighting the harm of spiking, and how to recognise the signs of spiking, and find support available for victims.
She’s also encouraging venues in the city to sign up for safety training as part of a safe place project run by The Egalitarian blog.
Samantha is campaigning under the banner of ‘Girls Night In Liverpool’, reviving the name of a movement started last autumn amid an apparent surge in spikings, during which Merseyside Police received 83 reports of drink spiking and ‘spiking by injection’ in two months.
Samantha said: “I just want people to be inspired. Even though this has happened to me, I’m trying to stand up for myself. Loads of people don’t report this or they just stay silent about it, but it’s good to stand up for yourself. This is how change comes about.”
A Merseyside Police spokesperson said: “If you have been a victim of a recent spiking or think you have been spiked please report it to police as soon as possible. “