OPINION: 'Being spiked was horrifying and made me grateful for having dependable friends'

Sheffield is a big city, and like all big cities, it has a lot of crime.
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It is strange that I still feel safer here than in my undergraduate city, but I’m still scared if I’m alone at night.

I spent the majority of my childhood in an extremely rural farming village where people go to retire and the worst crime in the area is teenagers smoking weed, and I felt perfectly comfortable being out late at night, alone.

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It never crossed my mind that I could be in danger, and I miss that feeling.

Staged picture of a spiked drinkStaged picture of a spiked drink
Staged picture of a spiked drink

I did my undergraduate degree in a smaller city, Southampton, and there I felt terrified at night.

I finished work late at night and would always get someone to walk or drive me home or get an Uber because walking the 25 minutes home was unthinkable.

Once we even drove past a man running around with a machete.

‘Always on high alert in Sheffield when walking home’

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In Sheffield, I’m still wary – it would be stupid not to be – but once or twice I haven’t been able to get a taxi home and I walked by myself late at night.

Even drunk, I was on high alert, walked very fast with my keys in my hand and pretended to be on the phone.

The few times I have been forced to walk home I was approached – by men – asking if I was a fresher, if I needed help getting home, asking if I was lost.

It is possible they were being nice, being concerned for my safety, but this is a small possibility and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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Even when walking home with a friend, we had to walk in a circle and took twice as long to get home because we were worried a man was following us.

I haven’t been spiked in Sheffield, yet.

In Southampton my drinks were spiked, and the experience was horrifying, and I’ve never felt more grateful for having dependable friends.

‘I always wear a jacket on a night out and buy drinks I can easily cover to avoid being spiked’

That is why I usually wear a jacket on a night out and buy drinks that I can easily cover, like VKs.

I know that if I was spiked my friends would make sure I was okay, but sometimes I wander off, lose my friends and end up joining other groups of students until I find them again.

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If I was spiked one of these times, I dread to think what would happen.

Even before I moved to Sheffield, I wanted to make sure I was living in a relatively safe area.

I almost rented a flat in Burngreave but scrapped that idea pretty quickly after I googled the area and crime statistics and saw many news stories about crime in that area.

Rent that cheap isn’t worth the risk. I now live just outside the city centre, and my road is very busy in the day and evening but late at night its poorly lit and there is nowhere for a taxi to pull up near my building, so I sprint to my door as soon as I leave the Uber.

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Sometimes the drivers ask if I want them to wait until they see me go into my building, just to be safe.

In the day, Sheffield is a very friendly and welcoming city. I love it.

Although I feel less scared than in Southampton, I’m still constantly aware of the risks and take precautions to stay safe.

The most expensive part of a night out is often paying for an Uber, with prices surging as scores of women are doing the same as me – not taking the risk of walking home despite being a poor student.

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Even when walking to the pub and back in the evening I feel wary, and my friends and I always text each other to make sure we get home safe.

Sheffield is a lovely city, but not lovely enough to feel comfortable in while alone at night.