WOMAN?S DRINK SPIKE HORROR
By ZOE SATHERLEY
THE last thing Sandra remembers is drinking with a friend at the Lennox Point Hotel. Seven hours later she woke up, battered and sexually abused.
Sandra, not her real name, has come forward to tell about the unprovoked attack three weeks ago.
The 30-year-old mum wants to warn other women about the increasing number of women falling victim to drink spiking across the Northern Rivers.
Police and sexual assault workers have confirmed the increase in attacks from Byron Bay to Lismore. Both men and women have been victims.
At Lennox Head, hotel manager Gavin Fensom said he believed Sandra's case was genuine.
"She is well known and well liked and is a person who knows how to control herself," he said.
He said there had been other anecdotal reports of drink spiking across the region.
"It is common and it is a growing problem, but very hard to verify," he said.
"We pride ourselves on taking care of our customers and keeping a very safe hotel and we report everything suspicious to police."
He said he had learned of youths who were spiking friends' drinks with a wattle sap extract which caused hallucinations, as a prank.
Sandra said she had been enjoying a night out with a friend at the Lennox Point Hotel on Friday night three weeks ago, March 18, when she suddenly felt overwhelmed by dizziness and a sense of breathlessness.
The next thing she remembers is waking up seven hours later, dirty, bruised, battered, with a human bite mark on her left hip, her money stolen and her body violated.
At Lismore Base Hospital, she underwent X-rays, toxicology testing and sexual assault counselling.
Tendons and ligaments had been badly damaged in her shoulder, a series of bruises ran down her spine, her knee was swollen and badly bruised and her skin was grazed in several places.
"I keep thinking that I could have been killed," she said.
Sandra said she felt particularly devastated by the lack of support and belief extended by people in the community since the incident had become known. This did not include the Sexual Assault Service.
"Having to justify myself and somehow prove that it actually happened has been the hardest thing," she said.
"I can understand why people rarely come forward to report things like this. You are made to feel that you somehow caused it, or deserved it, or that you are exaggerating."
Sandra said a friend told her later she had been conversing quite coherently but 10 minutes later she was unable to respond when he asked if she was alright and if she had taken something.
Richmond Sexual Assault Service co-ordinator Bronwen Myers said the service had concerns about drink spiking.
She said it was often difficult to prove someone had been the victim of drink spiking because there was usually a delay in taking blood or urine samples to test for the drugs used.
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