Image may contain: Female, Lip, Teeth, Mouth, Photo, Portrait, Photography, Glass, Smile, Head, Lager, Apparel, Clothing, Bottle, Accessories, Glasses, Accessory, Face, Beverage, Beer, Alcohol, Drink, Human, Person

“I have no idea why I was targeted”: We spoke to UoB students about male drink spiking

“People just thought I was using it as an excuse for being extremely drunk”

Male drink spiking has been in the media recently following the arrest and sentencing of Reynhard Sinaga, who prayed on young men outside of clubs in Manchester.

The case raised broader questions regarding the taboo of attacks on men, and whether there is enough accessible information available to them on the subject.

The Bristol Tab spoke to UoB students to hear their thoughts.

“Anyone is vulnerable to it”

George Slater is a 3rd year Biology student who fell victim to drink spiking on a night out in Reading 2 years ago.

He told The Bristol Tab: “I would probably just say the take home message from what happened to me is that anyone is vulnerable to it. I have no idea why I was targeted over anyone else.

“I’m a 6’2 boy who was wearing very normal clothes in a very ordinary club on a very ordinary night out. I wasn’t stupidly drunk or acting in a particular way. I was with a group of around 6 friends.

“All these things would make you think I was safe but it’s really not the case.”

Although cases like George’s may seem rare, 1 in 4 victims of drink spiking in England and Wales between 2015 and 2019 were men, according to data from the British Transport Police and 22 out of 43 surveyed police forces.

George said how frustrated he felt whilst trying to explain what had happened to other people, as many still perceive drink spiking as being something that only happens to women.

“Most people assume it’s only girls who this can happen to and so most people just thought I was using it as an excuse for being extremely drunk.

“My friends who were with me saw how much I had to drink and how out of control I was and knew it wasn’t from drinking. I have never in my whole life got into the state I was in and I drink quite a lot on nights out.”

A report conducted by the BBC found that there have been no convictions for drink spiking in over 5 years, however, George said that he is not surprised that so many people are able to get away with spiking drinks, as he was “clueless” when it happened to him.

What do students think?

The Bristol Tab wanted to find out what UoB students know about male drink spiking.

Fergus McIntosh, a 1st Year Politics and International Relations Student, believes that much of the problem comes down to ‘toxic masculinity’. He told The Bristol Tab: “Lots of people, especially men, find it really hard to open up about things that have happened to them that have deeply affected them.

“Having your drink spiked doesn’t often come up in conversation amongst young men, and I’d imagine lots of people who have had it happen to them either feel like they have no one to talk to about it, or that no one has gone through the same thing.

“It’s sad that this is the current state of affairs, but we have to keep striving to raise awareness of not just how to stay safe on a night out, but also how to seek help if something bad has happened.”

Rowan Page, a 2nd Year History Student, told The Bristol Tab: “It’s a social issue – the truth is, people are less likely to help a guy out if he’s in a vulnerable state than if a woman is in a vulnerable state.”

Esme O’Grady, a 2nd Year Biology Student, pointed out: “Pretty much all of the campaigns against drink spiking are aimed at protecting women, like the ‘Ask for Angela’ campaign. We can’t keep acting like this is something that only happens to women.”

What can YOU do to stay safe?

It’s easy to tell someone to ‘never leave your drinks unattended’, but on a drunken night out, how many of us would be in the right headspace to follow this advice religiously?

Here are some ways to help you stay safe on nights out:

‘Rat’s Tales’: Rat’s Tales is a local publishing house based in Bath who have launched a campaign called ‘Ions Dove’.

They offer discreet drugs testing kits in the form of cards. The cards work by placing a drop of the drink on to the patches, which will then show up positive if any traces of drugs are found.

Spikey’: Spikey is a recyclable plastic stopper that is inserted into the neck of a bottle which prevents substances from being dropped into the drink.

My Cup Condom’: Protection for your cup – the cup condom is the perfect way to prevent people from placing unknown substances into drinks.