One Revelstoke woman is thankful after managing to safely escape from a first date after realizing he had spiked her drink with drugs.
In the last two years, there have been nine drink-spiking incidents reported to the Revelstoke RCMP, said Staff Sgt. Chris Dodds. Of those, six were from women and three from men.
However, the majority of those incidents were before the start of the pandemic, when restaurants and bars were more frequently open and had higher capacities.
Shawna, whose name has been changed for safety concerns, was meeting a man from the dating app Tinder for dinner.
They had chatted over Facetime on several occasions and because he lived in Golden she had no qualms meeting him at a Revelstoke hotel in December.
“It’s ultimately not really the way I want to meet people but it’s hard obviously being single and it’s COVID, how else do you meet people these days?” she said. “It is just so normal, we have normalized online dating to a point where I did feel totally comfortable going over there.”
After her second margarita made by her date, Shawna said she started feeling nauseous and tired but blamed it on dehydration from a day of skiing. It wasn’t until she went to the washroom and looked in the mirror that Shawna suspected she had been drugged: she was pale and her pupils were dilated.
On the sly, she texted her roommate about her suspicions and asked for a ride home.
Ten minutes later, Shawna was in her roommate’s car, relieved to get away from her date.
When she reported the incident to the police that night she was surprised when they said there was nothing they could do because he hadn’t physically touched her, though the police later said they did go to the hotel to talk with him.
Shawna said she believes the drink spiking was an attempt towards sexual assault.
“I don’t see any other reason why you would do something like that.”
The next morning her friends convinced her to go to the hospital for a drug test. The results showed MDMA and methamphetamine in her system.
When Shawna called the RCMP to report the additional information, a different officer responded in a more understanding way, she said. She went into the police station to give a statement, along with her roommate and visited the victim’s services coordinator.
The last she heard the RCMP was bringing the man in for a statement.
Sgt. Dodds said the majority of drink-spiking reports over the last two years remain unsolved, either because there are no suspects or enough evidence to lay charges.
Dodds said there is often a time delay between the incident and when the report is filed, which can have an impact on drug test results.
“We know statistically that drink spiking does occur from time to time and likely to occur in a resort-type settings where people are attending night clubs etc.,”
He said it’s possible that some incidents are not reported and therefore the police may not have an accurate snapshot of how often it occurs.
Dodds urges anyone who believes their drink was spiked to report it to the police quickly to better increase the chances of investigating the incident.
He also said the RCMP works with local liquor establishments and interest groups to raise awareness on drink-spiking.
Statistics Canada does not have records on drink-spiking or tampering.
“Also, if the drug was used in an [drink-spiking] incident, we would only have it as possession, importation/exportation, or trafficking,” said Anne Maiorino, media relations officer for Statistics Canada. “So we wouldn’t know that it was used in a drink or not. We just don’t have that level of specificity.”
According to Stacey Forrester, a coordinator of Good Night Out, an organization dedicated to preventing and responding to sexual harassment and sexual assault in B.C., it’s estimated that almost 25 per cent of sexual assaults involve drugs, with alcohol being the most common.
Due to stigma, Forrester said it’s likely that percentage is much higher.
In the end, Shawna said she had a safety plan with her roommate and was able to escape her date before something worse happened and for that she is grateful.
However, she has since deleted Tinder and won’t have a first date at a hotel again.
Overall Shawna said she is disappointed. While she would have liked to see the man arrested immediately, she doesn’t know if he will ever be charged, even with the witness statements and toxicology evidence.
She said the justice system is broken and hopes her story will help spur change.
“This is a very small piece of the puzzle but if every woman that this ever happened to came forward and did something about it,” she said. “That is how change happens.”