Updated: Oct 26, 2021
Content Warning: Spiking / Assault
Durham University’s wellbeing account has recently come under fire due to the insensitive response to the endemic spiking incidents occurring across the country. The tweet, posted @DurhamWellbeing read as follows,
"Drink Spiking is dangerous and something that you can prevent from happening to you and your friends. #dontgetspiked Contact the police as soon as possible in a suspected case so an investigation can be conducted and others protected."
The comment faced huge backlash and was removed around lunchtime on Monday 18th October. However, the post had been up for around five days before it gained attention. Following the removal of the tweet, the account posted the following:
"We appreciate the feedback on our recent post about drink safety. Students have reported concerns to us about drink spiking on nights out. We take this very seriously, & work with the police and others on guidance to help people be safe & report incidents."
Although the tweet was taken down and the response above posted, it proves just how much work there is to do to ensure proper support is extended to those who have been spiked.
The suggestion that spiking is "something that you can prevent from happening to you and your friends’ is false. Even if you are meticulous and incredibly careful on a night out, there is no guarantee that this is enough to keep you from being spiked.
No one, especially women, should have to be ‘careful’ on a night out. It is not our responsibility to ensure our drinks are not tampered with; yet we carry this burden every single time we go out.
Whether that’s to a club, or to a bar, we are forced to be hyper-aware, because we know that nobody is protecting us. We watch our drinks be made; we cover our drinks with our hands or with plastic covers; we never leave our friends alone in the club; we go to the toilets in pairs; we constantly look out for others and warn those around us if we see suspicious behaviour. We shouldn’t have to do this to reduce our chances of being spiked.
The hashtag #dontgetspiked highlights exactly what is wrong with the narrative around spiking.
Stop blaming victims for these pernicious acts of violence. Victim-blaming is one of the reasons that people do not come forward or share their stories. They are made to believe it is their fault. We need to shift the conversation around spiking because responsibility for spiking lies at the hands of the perpetrator only. Those who are spiked need to know that they are supported and that it is not their fault, regardless of the amount of alcohol consumed.
But what could have been done instead? It would have been much more effective for the wellbeing account, designed to support students, to have sign-posted a list of places to seek support and to have established an open dialogue between students and the university, instead of advising people to not get spiked.
Today, (Tuesday 26th October) students in Durham are holding their night in. “Durham Night In” involves boycotting the clubs in Durham and the local area to spread the message that we will not attend clubs that fail to ensure our safety at their venues. Boycotts are happening across the country in various locations (particularly where universities are based). More information can be found below.
Please remember: if you are spiked, it is not your fault.
Click here: To find out more about the Durham Night-in
To "report and support", in order to ensure the university are aware of the increased number of spiking incidents.
Lucy is a final year History student at Durham University. In her spare time she works on human rights advocacy.
Disclaimer: All views expressed in this piece belong solely to the author and do not reflect the views of Demographica Limited as a company.