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Valley Journal Advertiser - 2021-11-23

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Let’s spike the stigma

POLITICS

How do you like your drinks? Straight, on ice, with a twist of lemon or an olive or two? Certainly not spiked with a drug that renders you unconscious or immobile. Yet news of drugs being slipped into the drinks of unsuspecting bar patrons continues to be reported across Atlantic Canada, with the most recent incidents making headlines in Charlottetown and Halifax. It’s horrible to think that a sexual predator only needs seconds to drop a drug into a glass when a person’s head is turned. And it only takes seconds or minutes more for a fun time out at a bar to turn into a nightmare. Josée Blinn-Saulnier knows only too well. She was out celebrating turning 20 last year at a bar in Halifax when she suddenly felt sick. Knowing her own normal response to the amount of alcohol she had consumed, she suspected she had been drugged. She shudders to think what would have happened if she had not been with fast-thinking friends who called an ambulance and got her to a hospital. She spent the next three days having trouble seeing and walking as the drug slowly passed through her system. “I was in a borderline (overdose) state,” she said. The police got involved in Blinn-Saulnier’s case, but sometimes the victims of drink-tampering don’t go public with their ordeals for fear of being blamed somehow for what happened to them. Blinn-Saulnier said there should be no stigma about reporting these incidents. “A lot of them are ashamed, and I understand that when scary stuff like this happens to people that they might feel ashamed and blame themselves,” she said, “but I want people to know it’s absolutely not their fault. This was done to them.” Just as “don’t walk alone at night” or “always walk in pairs” messaging to girls and women puts the onus on the innocent, safety warnings about spiked drinks often urge victims to try and prevent the crimes rather than focusing on the perpetrators. After two recent reports of spiked drinks in Charlottetown, the executive director of the P.E.I. Rape and Assault Centre spoke to SaltWire Network to set the record straight. “Sure, keep an eye on your drink, but the guys should keep an eye on each other,” said Rachael Crowder. “If you see someone popping drugs into others’ drinks, do something about it ... “It’s the violators that cause sexual violence.” When you’re out at a bar, kicking back, surrounded by friends, it’s easy to think everyone’s just out for a good time. Unfortunately, there are sexual predators in our midst and both men and women need to watch out for each other. If you suspect you have been drugged, tell a friend right away and report it to the police. It’s the only way to get sexual predators out of bars and behind them instead.

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