Top model Thalia Heffernan admitted she only opened up to her family about her spiking incident in her teens last week – after years of feeling ‘embarrassed’ and blaming herself for the terrifying ordeal.
Thalia told how she couldn’t speak or walk “and was vomiting profusely” after she was spiked when she was just 17-years-old.
Almost ten years later, the 26-year-old said she now realises she was never at fault, and is hoping that speaking out about her experience will help open up the conversation and work towards clamping down on spiking following a recent spate of needle spiking reports.
“I didn’t even tell my family,” she told Irish Daily Mirror.
“I guess I kind of just was like ‘maybe it was my own fault?’ I didn’t think it was a thing and I was very embarrassed and shameful that I let it happen.
“Which now, I was so young, and in hindsight it’s not my fault and it’s never the victim’s fault you have to remember that.
“But now that it is being spoken about finally it is a lot easier for people to share their own experiences and I just hope that there are consequences when people are caught.
“And those consequences hopefully will stop this strange bizarre onslaught of spiking and spiking culture.
“It’s one of those things that is sadly out of a lot of people’s control. It’s a culture that has been around for so long and I’m glad people are talking about it because it has been so long under the radar,” she added.
Detailing her terrifying experience for the first time, Thalia said: “Luckily I was put into a taxi before anything could happen in the bar, but that didn’t stop the taxi driver stealing my phone, wallet and throwing me on the side of my road outside my house.
“Two people, and another taxi driver going by called the police for me, as I couldn’t speak or walk and was vomiting profusely.
“Thankfully I was eventually brought into my house by the Garda, she added.
“They thought I was just drunk, and didn’t even wake my parents. I was 17.
“I am one of the lucky ones. Spike culture is real and incredibly dangerous. Don’t f***ing spike.”
After years of keeping it to herself, the revelation didn’t only come as a shock to her fans and friends, it was also the first time her family learned of her traumatic experience too.
“My sister messaged me saying I never knew about this and I was like ‘oh, I guess I never said it…’ I think I was 17, so it was nine years or so…
She went on: “You’d be shocked at how many people it has happened to.”
“Like the amount of people who reached out to me saying ‘same thing happened to me’ some people said it happened three or four times and I think I am very lucky that I have a place to talk to people freely about what happened to me.
“And I’m glad people are talking to me about it because it gives other people an opportunity to open up and an avenue to open up.”
The Dubliner, who is currently living in Co. Armagh with her boyfriend, Dancing with the Stars professional, Ryan McShane is never shy when it comes to topics she is passionate about.
A well-known ambassador for DSPCA, she’s regularly seen using her platform to fight against animal cruelty, as well as speaking openly about her mental health and eating issues, and the ups and downs of the modelling industry.
And now, she hopes adding her voice to the conversation of spiking can work towards ending the worrying ‘trend’ once and for all.
“I hate the word trend I always have and in this context, of all contexts I think it’s just a bizarre word to use. It’s a plague, it’s not a trend.
“Let’s make it a conversation and a topic we can talk about, because whenever it is talked about people are scared to do it I think as well.
“A lot of the time, particularly years ago, people were like ‘ah you are just drunk’ and we just assume..
“Now we have taken back the control and it is our turn to now say ‘no, no, no, I know what I’m like when I’m drunk and I understand what it means and that was not what that was’.
“The more you speak about it the more terrified people are I think, to do it, hopefully.
“It’s happened before with the Me Too campaign and stuff, the speaking and the opening up about experiences has drawn this into the limelight and it made it mor