'Terrified, vulnerable, violated': What a night out in Nottingham now means for women
Words by ITV News North of England Producer Jade Liversidge
"Terrified, vulnerable, violated".
These are the words of female students in Nottingham, describing a sinister new trend of women on a night out being spiked by a needle. Over the past few weeks reports have emerged of horrifying accounts from women who say they have been pierced by a needle in their legs, hands and back, waking up with the bruises but no memory.
Women have always had to carry the burden of keeping ourselves safe while trying to have a good time.
We have had it drilled into us keep our drink covered, never leave it unattended and keep our friends close so we’re never alone and exposed.
None of that advice can protect us from this new threat – how do you keep yourself safe from a needle in the back or arm?
That sense of anger and terror was palpable in Nottingham city centre last night. As I approached a group of friends for an interview they immediately knew what I was going to ask them.
"Is this about the injections? It’s been going on for weeks, it’s happening everywhere," one said.
Astrid Finley is a student here. She said has seen first hand the effects of spiking by injection - one of her friends believes she was spiked in the leg last week.
After hearing reports of spiking in Nottingham, Astrid Finley said nights out now mean "terror" to her
When asked what she feels on a night out now, she replied "terror".
"We don’t know what’s going to happen to us, it’s so indiscriminate," she added.
"We’re trying to go out, have fun and be liberated as women. It’s physical assault at the end of the day."
'There's nothing you can do to prevent it': Ella Hignall on the futility of women trying to avoid spiking by injection
Ella Hignall echoed this fear.
"You think you’re getting somewhere with protecting your friends, we always message. What can we do, literally what can we do?" she said As the police lead investigations, next week students across the UK plan to take safety into their own hands, organising boycotts of nightclubs - in a call for the "spiking outbreak to be taken seriously".
This latest threat feels very personal.
The outpouring of grief and anger for women’s safety has never been stronger, yet we are continuing to ask the same questions about fear and "what needs to happen to protect our safety?"
It feels so wrong that a night out used for escapism after months of staying inside is presenting more dangers than ever.