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Spiking Safety with Mair Howells
HOW DID I’VE BEEN SPIKED START?
‘I started I’ve Been Spiked a month after I got spiked, and two months before that my sister had her drink spiked too. You hear about spiking, but I didn’t actually know it happened, especially so close to home.
I knew from my sister’s experience that the police and the hospital didn’t know how to deal with it. The police require a blood test to further investigate, but the hospitals won’t do forensic testing… then you’re just left there. So, when it happened to me, I didn’t report it. I went online to try and find some sort of support page and there wasn’t anything.
I just started it as like a safe space, I suppose, for people to share their story, get support and access information and it’s just grown from there.People label me as an activist or campaigner now, so I guess that’s what I am, but I never really expected it to go this far if I’m completely honest.
ARE WE IN THE AGE OF A SPIKING PANDEMIC, IS IT GETTING THE COVERAGE WE NEED?
I don’t know whether the issue is growing or getting worse…
I think it’s being spoken about more, until relatively recently It was just a taboo subject, people didn’t really want to talk about it. As women were made to think about where we put our drinks on nights out and our safety generally, so I guess it was somewhat ingrained in me. I never actually knew anyone that it had happened to, until I started talking about it, but there’s a lot of denial, because you almost blame yourself a little bit.
Seeing ‘I MAY DESTORY YOU’, that was the first time I had ever seen it shown on TV. Before that I don’t think people were really speaking about it enough. I didn’t know any information, I didn’t know how to help someone that had been spiked, I didn’t even know what the signs were. Within my investigations I spoke to a psychologist who explained this catch-22 when talking about things so openly. Because in a weird way, sick minded people will get inspired to do that…but I think the only way to make any changes is to talk about it openly.
WHY DO YOU THINK PEOPLE SPIKE?
It’s a total dis-regard for human life, I think there’s a lot of reason why people spike people, and a lot of it comes down to power play. In most cases when men have been spiked, it’s to one-up them or emasculate them or also to rob them. But with women it’s a lot darker, because there’s sides of sexual assault and rape. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen to men as well because I know it’s very prevalent in the gay community…but it all stems down to power basically, having control or power over someone. A lot of psychopaths and sociopaths hold the same traits. You’ve got to be a special type of person to think that’s okay. Mental illness probably plays a part, but it all stems down to power.’
The other thing that I think is contributing massively is the rise of Incel culture in the UK, which I would classify as terrorism. The fact that some men hate women so much they want to cause harm to us is just being allowed to happen.
THE RISE OF SPIKING VIA INJECTION
When spiking via injection became a thing, it showed us how people will do anything to harm others. I think it happened in one place, and someone thought, ‘oh, that’s a good idea.’, It’s a massive scare tactic. It’s about scaring us into not going out
I also think with spiking via injection, it sounds harsh, but a lot of people don’t believe things until they can see them visibly in front of them. When I said I’ve been spiked, it was just my word against the person that spiked me, but when someone’s pricked you with a needle, you can show that. When people see something in front of them that’s when they start to react
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU’VE UNCOVERED WITHIN YOUR RESEARCH?
‘What shocked me the most was the fact that spiking itself isn’t actually a crime, it’s only a crime if it’s followed by something more serious. Because to me it’s GBH (Grievous Bodily Harm), a lot of these drugs are really really powerful.
I spoke to a female police officer and she openly said ‘there’s a massive problem with misogyny in the police force’. There’s a massive problem with the police generally and some of these things are affecting the way crimes are dealt with. And it’s something that we need to discuss and talk about openly, because it really can happen to anyone. That’s what I’ve always said and what I’ve always tried to do with the campaign. Anyone can be spiked, men, women, people that are non-binary.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
I’m really working towards education and systemic change. At the moment, the government is focusing on increasing the time that someone gets for spiking or making spiking a criminal offense, but a lot of these cases aren’t reaching the court in the first place. So for me it’s like, how can we stop it from happening in the first place.
I don’t know about you but my sex education in school was absolutely abysmal. I think sex education should be mandatory, not even specifically sex, I’m talking about consent lessons, what a heathy relationship looks like, because people get consent lines blurred ,a lot of people aren’t getting education around it. I’m also an advocate for bystander training around spiking, how you can help a friend and what the signs are. Obviously I don’t want to place blame on the community but I think there are things we can do at a grassroots level.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR IVE BEEN SPIKED?
In terms of the campaign, I want to create some safe-space club nights, because I love going out and I think it’s a massive part of growing up. A lot of people find their tribes through clubbing, especially if you’re in the LGBTQ+ community you can find your space…I think that’s all really important and we should all be able to do that.
I want to keep campaigning for change, for better education in schools around sex education, and making sure there is some long-lasting change. Eventually I would like I’ve Been Spiked to become a charity, because at the end of the day its just me. I’ve got no funding, I do it all myself. I would love to expand my team and get help and get funding.
However, there’s also a part of me that doesn’t want to be talking about this in 10 years time, that sounds mad but I don’t think we should still be having this discussion 10 years from now. It’s an awful thing that shouldn’t be happening, so hopefully that will be the case. Until then I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and trying to help more people…
PRICKS THE PODCAST
In terms of the podcast, I want people to listen and either find comfort or learn something new. Understand the experience of what it’s like to spiked even if you haven’t. It’s always gonna be available, so I hope it will help some people.