One woman’s terrifying story of being the victim of drink spiking

TRIGGER WARNING: This story contains description of sexual assault, which may cause distress to some readers.

First published at news.com.au on July 25, 2016.

EARLIER this year, mum-of-three Michele*, 44, was having a fun Friday night out with friends in a small Aussie coastal town when her drink was spiked, causing her to black out.

When she regained consciousness, Michele found herself in an unfamiliar hotel room, violently ill from the effects of being drugged and surrounded by a group of naked men. Unable to move or even speak, she was raped repeatedly and left feeling humiliated and confused. This is her story.

“It was a beautiful warm night and I was out with four of my girlfriends,” Michele says. “We’d had dinner at a local pub and then a few drinks at the bar before heading across town to another pub.”

She says the girls were enjoying themselves, chatting with friends and sharing a few drinks while a live band played to the crowded bar. “There were a lot of tourists in town but I still knew quite a few people there including my son, who was with a bunch of friends and I was chatting with them throughout the night,” she explains.

“We all have busy lives and were looking forward to just having a night out without our partners and kids, relaxing and being able to reconnect with old friends.”

And while Michele admits she’d consumed quite a few drinks over the course of the evening, she says she was far from drunk. “Certainly I’d been drinking but I know my limits and I paced myself, like I always do,” she says.

Michele recalls an unfamiliar group of guys at the pub, sitting at a table nearby. One of the men approached the women and offered to buy them drinks, which they all refused. But he was persistent and she says continued to hang around for the rest of the evening.

“I had very little interaction with him — I didn’t speak to him very much at all,” Michele says. “But then, later in the evening, I remember he walked up and handed me a drink in a glass … I assume that I drank it but I actually don’t remember drinking it.”
When Michele’s friends left the pub at closing, she continued on to a local nightclub with her son and his friends.

“I planned to have one more drink and then go home. I remember walking up the nightclub’s staircase and at the top there being a group of men who seemed vaguely familiar. I also recall there being a round of drinks when I arrived but, again, I don’t actually remember having a drink,” she says.

“When my son saw me leaving the club, he said there were two guys near me. He called out, ‘Mum, where are you going?’ and I apparently told him I was getting a cab home. But I don’t remember this or leaving the club … or anything else until I woke up in that hotel room.”

When Michele came to, she became aware that she was on a bed surrounded by naked men who went on to repeatedly penetrate and sexually abuse her. The effects of the drug left her groggy, falling in and out of consciousness and often unable to speak or even move to defend herself.

“At one stage I was vomiting so violently I thought I was going to die … I remember one of the men holding my head up over the toilet bowl. I was also wetting myself but had absolutely no control over my naked body,” she says.

But despite how violently ill Michele had been, these men continued to sexually abuse her and there was absolutely nothing she could do to stop it. “I was physically unable to move myself to do anything about it and had no choice but to go through it,” she explains.

Feeling extremely fragile, sore and weak, Michele says that in the morning, as she collected her belongings and went to leave the room, one of the men had said to her, “Thanks for being a great sport with all of this.”

On returning home, Michele was still ill and very confused by what had happened. It was difficult to gather the energy and courage to report her experience to police and visit her doctor. “It took nearly a week for me to come to terms with the fact that I’d been drugged and raped, and then get my head around what I had to do,” she says.

“How was I going to explain the depravity of what they did to my semi-conscious body, when I only had snapshots of memories to tell?”

Michele is currently working with authorities to try and bring these men to justice and is determined that they be held accountable. “I want to look each of these men in the eye and ask, ‘What do you get out of having sex with an unconscious woman?’”

She has chosen to tell her story to news.com.au to encourage others who also experience being drugged and sexually assaulted to report it to police. There is currently very little data available about how frequently drink spiking occurs, with or without sexual assault resulting and Michele says this needs to change.

“The more people who report these crimes to police, the more essential resources and support will become available to the victims and the authorities,” she says. “By not reporting it, victims are allowing these guys to go unpunished and be free to go off and do it again to someone else.”

*All names and other identifying details have been changed for legal reasons.

If you, or someone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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