Portsmouth spiking victim left 'weak and vulnerable' after being sexually assaulted following night out

A WOMAN who was violently sexually assaulted at a man’s home after a night out has said the attack has left her feeling ‘weak and vulnerable’.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 10:01 am

The 31-year-old told The News up until the assault in Portsmouth she was a ‘fiery person’ but the incident has ‘put my fire out’.

She had been out with friends in Southsea before being asked to leave a venue after she believes she was possibly spiked.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, got in a taxi with a man known to her members of her group and wanted to go home.

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A victim of sexual assault has spoken out about how she was attacked after a possible spiking incident. Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)

But instead she was attacked while asleep at a man’s house.

She said: ‘I was taken to his house and the next thing I know, I woke up and I was being violently sexually assaulted in my sleep.

‘I woke up to what was going on and I locked myself in a bathroom and waited for a taxi, and then I just literally ran out of the house.’

She is speaking out today about the assault last month amid an increase in spiking incidents reported to police in Portsmouth.

And it comes as the creators behind app Contactless Menu launch a new safety feature for women in bars, clubs and hotels.

It allows registered users at venues using the food and drink ordering app to discreetly raise the alarm in an unsafe or uncomfortable situation.

The new safety feature, which sends an alert to staff and a trusted contact, already has the support of 10 venues in Portsmouth – with more expected to sign up following the launch.

And it is being backed by the spiking victim who said if it existed at the time of her attack last month, it could have helped her get home safe.

She said: ‘I’ve heard some really horrible things with regards to spiking. (The app’s) not going to completely prevent everything – that’s impossible.

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‘You can’t stop people being rapists and murderers but what you can do is take better steps to protect ourselves from those people.

‘If it’s something available to use on the night one of my friends could have used this to get me help.’

She added: ‘I could’ve been looked after and been escorted and got to my home a bit safer,’ she said.

‘It’s such an immediate thing, you’ve got to open your phone, press a button - you don’t need to cause a scene and the help will be there for you.’

As of last month, police in Portsmouth said there had been 18 incidents of drink spiking in the city reported to them since July.

Data obtained by National World shows there were 12 offences of administering a substance with intent in Hampshire between 2016-2020.

The woman assaulted last month said she is soon to get therapy although said the police investigation had been ‘slow going’. She said: ‘I never ever imagined something like this would happen to me.

‘I’m very confident, very loud, very bolshie. I’ve never had a fear of men – I love going out and I love being sociable.

‘But it’s really put me off people. I’ve not been sleeping very well.

‘I was referred to therapy, I’m very anxious – I think it’s been a massive knock and made me look at the world a little bit differently, and people differently.

‘Now when I go out... I’m constantly people-watching everybody. I’ve been having to get my parents to come out with me to feel a bit safer.

‘I'm a very fiery person and I feel it's put my fire out.

‘That’s what makes me feel something I never really have – weak and vulnerable – and that’s so far from what I am.

‘To be made to feel that way with such a lack of control, I just feel so violated.

‘I think the main reason I wanted to be so involved in the app is if I can even be part of one person not being made to feel that way it will make me feel better.’

She said police had yet to make an arrest or seize CCTV footage that could help the investigation.

A Hampshire police spokeswoman said: ‘The woman involved is being supported by specialist officers.

‘An investigation into the incident is underway and our enquiries are ongoing. No arrests have been made at this time.

‘We are currently working to follow up all lines of enquiry available to us to enable a thorough and full investigation.’

The attack comes after an 18-year-old woman was spiked in Pryzm nightclub last month.

Team behind new safety feature hope city venues will sign up

JUST the tap of a phone screen can summon help in a potentially dangerous situation.

The Contactless Menu app is used by 40-45 venues with thousands of users in Portsmouth.

The new safety feature #NoMore allows a user in trouble to tap the #NoMore icon in the app, select a location – be it a table number or toilet – and then select a decoy excuse, such as failed payment, lost ID or bank card.

This decoy reason gives venue staff a pretence to get involved, and immediately come to the woman's aid in an uncomfortable or unsafe situation.

App co-creator Paul Cramp told The News he wanted to modernise Ask Angela – a scheme that urges people in trouble to ask bar staff for Angela, signalling they need help.

He said: ‘We're not saying we can replace a 999 call and we can't save everyone but what we've got here will offer the best form of prevention out there.’

Paul, who worked on the app with co-creator Anthony Clarke, said the app already has more than 25,000 users across Portsmouth and Southampton. The safety feature is launching first in Portsmouth.

The app has cleared 80,000 separate orders since lockdown was lifted and around 1,000 users are signing up each week.

‘They can press a button on the app, they can call for assistance from a table from a toilet cubicle or a hotel room,’ he said.

‘It’s an absolute game changer.’

The safety feature will launch from Friday in Emporium, Playground, Chambers, The King’s, The Beach Club, The Art Cafe, Jessie’s Latin Lounge, Broadway Coffee Shop, and the Queens Hotel.

App feature welcomed by women’s charity

A charity working with domestic violence victims has welcomed the new Contactless Menu safety feature.

Claire Lambon, from Stop Domestic Abuse, said it would give women and girls ‘the confidence to feel safe’ when out.

She said: ‘Now many hospitality venues are turning to an app-based ordering system, this is a fantastic initiative and approach to ensure the safety of women on a night out and to tackle male violence against women.

‘I hope to see many of our nighttime venues across the city embrace the use of the app, especially because of this unique feature.

‘Portsmouth has lots to offer, including a vibrant nightlife and it is important that we are doing all we can to keep our community and visitors safe.

‘If women feel threatened or vulnerable while on a date or night out, it is vital they have access to support from those around them and I believe this app feature will give women and girls across the city the confidence to feel safe.

‘I would urge venues taking part to ensure staff are fully trained in how to signpost help and support so that women can enjoy themselves without fear of being unsafe.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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