Sharon from Love Island is campaigning for change on how we support spiking victims
‘I think it’s important for me to break the stereotypical mould of what a Love Islander does, and use the platform I’ve gained to do something really helpful’
Love Island star Sharon Gaffka claims to have been the victim of spiking several times. The last incident happened when she was out for lunch for her best friend’s birthday at a restaurant in Chelsea.
When the two male paramedics turned up to find her barely breathing, with her eyes rolling to the back of her head, they told her friends to take her home because she was “too drunk”.
“It’s not the first time it’s happened to me,” Sharon says. “I’d put my house on it not being the last. And that’s a really horrible thing to think about.”
Now, Sharon is using her platform and her experience working within government to try and effect actual change when it comes to how we combat spiking and how we can best support victims.
Sharon’s lobbying parliament, calling for more legislation
Having worked for the civil service for seven years, Sharon is keen to use her experience to build on the efforts of the Girls’ Night In boycotts that took place back in October. Her aim is to “speak to parliamentarians and legislators about what we can do for victims, to try and curb victim shaming and to stop [spiking] from happening in the future.”
She’s meeting her local MP tomorrow
On Wednesday, Sharon has a meeting with her local MP, who she hopes will help her lobby the home office, the ministry of justice and the department of education to start work on some anti-spiking legislation. In the meantime, Sharon has been collecting the testimonies of victims. She hopes to present these accounts to the home affairs committee. “A lot of the victim statements I have received are from women who’ve been spiked in order to cause physical harm sexually to them,” she says.
For Sharon, one of the ways we can combat spiking is by making huge changes to the way we educate young people on consent.
Sharon’s motivation is rooted in her own personal experience of spiking
Sharon has unfortunately been the victim of spiking on a number of occasions. She thinks there’s too much emphasis placed on what to do to avoid being spiked and not enough on victim support.
After Sharon was spiked in the restaurant and went to hospital, she was discharged without any papers, not knowing what had actually happened to her. “I didn’t leave my house for almost two weeks,” she tells me. “I was so anxious.”
Because of her experience with the paramedics not believing she had been spiked, Sharon felt “shamed at the point of use of public service.” It took her a while to build up the courage and phone up the hospital to ask what had happened. She was then told that if she thought she’d been spiked, she should have gone to the police. But how could she have done that when she didn’t tell them her own name or where she was? For Sharon it seems as if “there’s no standard piece of advice for victims of spiking.”
Sharon believes that there needs to be some form of blanket guidance helping to support victims of spiking, telling them exactly where they need to go and what they need to do. “Every NHS trust has different procedures when it comes to helping spiking victims,” she says.
Sharon hopes that by using her platform she can help make real change happen. “I think it’s more important for me to break the stereotypical mould of what a Love Islander does, and use that platform and the followers that I’ve gained, especially the young girls that follow me, and do something really helpful for them to make sure they don’t have to deal what I’ve dealt with,” she says.
Featured image via Instagram