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Crises tips & hotlines to keep you safe: drink spiking & sexual assault

CN: alcohol, drugs, sexual assault

It is never ideal to put your guard up on a supposedly fun-filled night. The reality is, violence is still prevalent on good days. The need to be aware and focused is highly necessary, especially on busy occasions. It’s hard to know who you can and can’t trust, leaving us with the safest option—to trust no one.

What to do if your drink has been spiked:

The phrase “spike a drink” means to put an unwanted substance—such as a drug—into someone’s drink without their knowledge or permission. Often, we are told to not leave our drinks unattended and to never accept a drink from a stranger, but there’s a new danger on the rise: injection spiking, a way of spiking someone by injecting them with a needle. Remember, the only one at fault is the person who spiked the drink—not you and your unawareness of the act.

In the event that you or a friend’s drink has been spiked, here is what to do.

Note any symptoms. If it was put into your drink, symptoms may only occur when it’s too late.

Symptoms of drink spiking depend on many factors such as:

  1. If you haven’t been drinking, you might start feeling drunk, woozy or drowsy.
  2. Feeling “out of it” or drunker than expected
  3. Mental confusion
  4. Speech difficulties (such as slurring)
  5. Memory loss
  6. Loss of inhibitions
  7. Nausea and vomiting
  8. Breathing problems
  9. Muscle spasms or seizures
  10. Loss of consciousness
  11. An unusually long hangover
  12. A severe hangover when you had little or no alcohol to drink

If you see someone getting spiked:

  1. Alert a trusted person (friend, venue staff or host)
  2. Keep a close eye on anyone who has had their drink spiked. Alert them and get them somewhere safe.
  3. Call an ambulance if their condition deteriorates in any way (for example, if they lose consciousness).
  4. Contact police as soon as possible after a suspected incident of drink spiking

What to do if you have been sexually assaulted or raped:

  1. Go to the emergency department of the nearest hospital, call 911
  2. Seek medical treatment as soon as possible in the case of HIV post-exposure, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy testing and treatment options at your nearest hospital.

*HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) should be initiated as soon as possible after exposure (ideally within two hours)

What happens when you go to the hospital to report sexual assault:

  1. Upon arrival, the hospital may offer assistance from a local sexual assault crisis advocate. The advocate will be able to answer any of your questions about a forensic exam, accompany you through the entire examination, and provide follow-up resources.
  2. A sexual assault forensic exam, sometimes known as a “rape kit,” is the collection of evidence in the emergency department after a sexual assault occurred or within 96 hours of the incident.
    *To preserve as much DNA as possible, do not shower, use the bathroom or wash your clothes prior to going to the emergency room.
    REMEMBER: If you are uncomfortable with any part of the exam, you do not have to consent.

New York State Hotline for Sexual Assault:

If you have been sexually assaulted, call the New York State Hotline for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.

1-800-942-6906

This is a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL hotline that is answered 24/7 by trained victim advocates who can provide you with information and crisis counseling on the phone.

Further Steps:

Services to go about the situation and learning to deal with the trauma are crucial and highly beneficial. Here are some ways to go forward, at your own pace:

Safe Horizon: Provides services for victims of crime and abuse, including child abuse and their families. Includes: legal and court programs, domestic violence shelters, counseling centers and multiple hotlines.

1-800-621-4673 (DV hotline) – 24/7 Hotline, Counseling, Legal Services, Shelter

1-212-227-3000 (Sexual Assault hotline)

NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault: This organization hosts resources for survivors of sex assault online and via their hotline. Includes crisis counseling, safety planning, assistance with finding shelter & information about resources.

212-229-0345

212-514-SAFE (7233) – Hotline

32 Broadway #1101 New York, NY 10004

Resources:

https://nownyc.org/womens-justice-now/get-help/

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/drink-spiking#tips-to-prevent-drink-spiking

https://www.health.ny.gov/professionals/safe/

https://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/sexual_violence/

Toni Ann Hoffman

New School '24

Currently a sophomore studying Product Design at Parsons School of Design in New York City! I write on a variation of topics but mainly focus on self-help (mental health) and design!
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