Student shares harrowing experience of being 'spiked' with injection

21 October 2021, 09:47

Zara Owen told of her terrifying ordeal after being spiked with an injection
Zara Owen told of her terrifying ordeal after being spiked with an injection. Picture: LBC

By Elizabeth Haigh

A student who was spiked with an injection on a night out has shared details of the harrowing ordeal with LBC.

Zara Owen, a 19-year-old first year student at the University of Nottingham, spoke to LBC about her experience of being spiked by injection at a nightclub in the city.

Zara went out with friends to Pryzm on 11 October. She described entering the club, using the photo booth and then heading to the bar and ordering drinks. "Everything was fine," she said.

But Zara told LBC that after getting to the bar she didn't remember anything for the rest of the night until she arrived home.
"I don’t remember anything. It’s not a blur of memory, it was almost like I wasn’t there. 

"It was a complete blackout and that never happens to me."

She said she was scared when she woke up the next morning and had no idea what had happened. She told LBC she soon realised she had been spiked.

Zara noticed severe pain in her leg: "I was in so much pain it was unbearable to walk on."

She later found a pinprick mark: "I thought it might just be a scab but I pressed it and suddenly realised all the pain in my leg originated from that spot.

"That was when I realised: there’s no ifs, buts or maybes, I’ve been spiked."

Zara added she knows of several other women in the city who have also been spiked by injection.

LBC has seen images of various injection marks from alleged victims of injection spiking. They vary from tiny acne-like pinpricks to swollen lumps, and have been seen on social media on people’s hands, backs, legs and arms.

Zara was injected through her clothing, and found out from her friends she had wandered off from the group before being found by a friend.

"I left the club alone, and that is something that I would never do. I always go to the toilet, or the bar with at least one other person, because of safety. 

"So why I did this is a complete mystery to me, it’s vastly out of character for me."

She said: "I’m a bit more scared than I ever was because you hear about these things but you don’t ever expect it to happen to you. 

"You can’t do anything about it. Yes you can cover your glasses, you can cover your bottles but with these injections there’s nothing you can do."

She called for clubs to search people on entry, adding: "I would say I am concerned. I’m obviously going to keep more aware."

But she says the experience hasn't made her want to stop clubbing: "I don’t want my life to be treading on eggshells. I don’t want them to have the satisfaction of knowing they’ve stopped me enjoying myself."

Dangers of injection spiking include not only becoming victims of crime, but also contracting blood-transmitted diseases from unsterilized needles such as Hepatitis B or HIV.

Zara's injection site has since healed to a seemingly innocuous dot.
Zara's injection site has since healed to a seemingly innocuous dot. Picture: Zara Brown

Superintendent Kathryn Craner, of Nottinghamshire Police, said the force is "actively investigating" reports of victims being spiked by injection at venues across the city. 

She said: "Our enquiries into these incidents are ongoing but we understand people may be concerned about incidents like this and want to reassure the public we are working incredibly hard to investigate.

"We are treating all of these incidents very seriously.

"We have recently arrested and conditionally bailed a local male as part of our investigations. 

“We do not believe that these are targeted incidents; they are distinctly different from anything we have seen previously as victims have disclosed a physical scratch type sensation before feeling very unwell."

Fears are being raised about women’s safety after reports of "life-threatening" injection spiking at nightclubs and bars in cities around the UK.

Spiking in any form is illegal and is often carried out by perpetrators hoping to steal from or commit a sexual offence against a victim.

There have been recent reports of cases of injection spiking in major cities in Edinburgh, Dundee and Nottingham.

The University of Dundee tweeted on Monday: "We have been made aware of widely circulating reports of spiking via injection occurring in local bars and clubs. These extremely distressing events have no place in our community.

"Perpetrators of these acts are to blame and we condemn any behaviour of this nature. It is unacceptable, reprehensible, and ultimately life-threatening."

The statement comes after #dontgetspiked trended on social media on Monday as University of Durham Student Wellbeing issued a tweet to its students including the hashtag.

The tweet was widely criticised for victim-blaming and has since been deleted, with the account issuing a statement saying they take the issue "very seriously." 

A University of Nottingham spokesperson told LBC: "The University and Students’ Union are concerned by these reports and are working closely with Nottinghamshire Police and the city’s nightlife venues. 

"We would encourage our students to be additionally vigilant and follow police advice to report any suspicions to them immediately for investigation. 

"Student welfare is our top priority and we already run a range of schemes to support students’ personal safety when on a night out."

A spokesperson for Pryzm Nottingham said: "We take all allegations of this nature seriously.

"The safety and welfare of our guests is our number one priority and we do everything we can to create a safe and fun night out. 

"We urge anyone who sees suspicious behaviour, or suspects they have been a victim of spiking, to seek assistance immediately from a member of staff or security, who are trained to help and who also have the support of our onsite medic."

Nottinghamshire Police, the University of Nottingham and Pryzm nightclub all appealed to anyone who believes they have been a victim of spiking to contact police.

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