Online Survey Finds One-fourth Australians Victims of Drink-spiking

by VR Sreeraman on Sep 27 2007 3:03 PM

A study conducted at RMIT University in Melbourne has revealed that 25 per cent of young Australians have become victims of drink-spiking at the hands of perpetrators, who consider mixing unwanted stuff in drinks to be means to have fun and boost their chances of having sex.

The study also fond that in 50 per cent of such cases the perpetrators were know to their victims. RMIT psychologist Bridget McPherson conducted an online survey, and talked to more than 800 people, aged 18 to 35, about drink spiking.

The researcher found that the majority of drink-spiking incidents had occurred at licensed venues. People surveyed revealed that their drinks were spiked when they had left them unattended, or accepted a drink without seeing how it was made.

The study also showed that women were "significantly" more likely to have been victims. While 16 per cent of the participants admitted adding alcoholic shots to another person's alcoholic drink, six per cent said that they had added alcoholic shots to a non-alcoholic drink.

The number of people to admit adding legal or illegal substances to a drink, such as valium or ecstasy, was only one per cent. McPherson claimed that her study was the first in the world to interview drink-spiking perpetrators, and to uncover worrying attitudes to the crime.

"It really seemed to have this theme of acceptability and appropriateness, and people were almost perceiving it as an altruistic act in terms of the perpetrators," quoted her as saying.

"(But) victims were reporting that it was a very negative experience, and there was a whole range of negative physical and psychological outcomes," she added. McPherson said that most of the drink spikers did so because they thought that it was "easier to approach people for sex if they're drunk or drug-affected," while others listed "fun" as their motivation.

Among the victims, nine per cent reported being sexually assaulted, nine per cent were hospitalised, and one per cent were robbed. Ms McPherson also found that about 85 per cent of victims had not reported the incident to authorities. "About 60 per cent were looked after by their friends after the incident, so they didn't perceive that to be a really negative occurrence," she said.

She said that she undertook the study to turn the focus of drink spiking awareness campaigns away from victims to the offenders. "There's certainly never been any prevention programs developed - they are all just campaigns kind of focused on victims which I think is the wrong way of going about it," she said.