'Drug rapist destroyed my life'

ANITA Grinham's world collapsed around her after her drink was spiked on a night out and she was raped in her own home.

Russell Claydon

ANITA Grinham's world collapsed around her after her drink was spiked on a night out and she was raped in her own home.

The bubbly single mother lost her beauty salon business and her self-confidence, hacking back and dyeing her long blonde hair to change her appearance and becoming too scared to leave the house.

Terrified by threats from her attacker to stay quiet, she only plucked up the courage to tell the police a few weeks after the incident - only to discover that the lack of forensic evidence meant there was little chance of a conviction.

But now Miss Grinham, 34, is trying to gain something positive from her nightmare ordeal by stopping others falling victim to drug rapists. She has set up a business to supply a product for people to test if their drinks have been tampered with and is now trying to persuade pubs and clubs to stock the device.

Tearfully reliving her ordeal, Miss Grinham, who now lives in Tattingstone, said she had been out clubbing in Ipswich in July last year when she felt something was seriously wrong.

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The mother-of-four said: “We went out to a club in Ipswich and were having a good time meeting lots of people we knew when I started coming over very peculiar.

“I had just started my second glass of wine and I started to feel like I was really, really drunk. I was not steady on my feet and was feeling woozy and disorientated.

“There was this man I knew there who had been keeping an eye on my drink; he was someone who always flirted with me and I always took it with a pinch of salt.

“He was obviously the one who spiked my drink but I was not aware at the time and he became this 'knight in shining armour' to take me home. One minute I was okay and then it was black.”

She said the next thing she remembered was being in her bedroom at her home in Shotley with the man who had offered to take her home.

“I remember waking up with someone on top of me,” she said. “I do not know how I had got into bed.

“I had no bottoms on and he was grabbing me with his head next to mine and telling me I was hot.

“It was as if I had had a stroke, all I could get out of my mouth was 'just go'. It was so hard to speak. It was like nothing was working. It felt like my whole body was made of lead. I could see and smell him but I could not do anything.

“He ended up leaving and the next day I woke up and wondered if it did happen but then it started to hit me.”

She ran to the bathroom as she heard her children waking up and began frantically scrubbing her body and washed the sheets on her bed.

“I started to live like everything was fine. I did not know if people would believe me and I thought I could deal with it.”

Miss Grinham said she then started receiving threatening text messages from the man, warning she would be “sorted out” if she went to the police.

Feeling desperate and terrified, she said she cut back her long hair to shoulder height and dyed it from blonde to brown in a desperate bid to remodel herself from the woman who was sexually abused.

Miss Grinham pinned her hopes on a new start as she moved house to Tattingstone, and was due to open a beauty salon within a martial arts club in Ipswich, but for a variety of reasons the business move fell through.

“I ended up being faced with no work and people thinking I am lying,” she said.

“This guy virtually destroyed me. I ended up from being a long blonde-haired pretty girl who looked after herself to someone who cut her hair, dyed it and started wearing different clothes.

“I would not go out. I would become very, very reclusive and found it very hard to deal with it.”

Her friends began to distance themselves from her but she said her best friend, Louise Barker, and her family helped her to pull through.

Miss Grinham said she decided to go to the police a few weeks after the incident and showed them the abusive messages on her phone. Police made an arrest but then she was told by police that the Crown Prosecution Service could not take the case to court because of a lack of forensic evidence, meaning it would be one person's word against another's in front of a jury.

Miss Grinham saw a rape therapist to help with getting through the emotional side of the experience but the injustice of her attacker remaining at large spurred her on to come up with an idea to help others from going through the same experience.

She said: “It had destroyed my life. I could have let it carry on but I said it was not right. This guy is still walking around and gets away with it.

“It takes a lot of courage for someone to come forward and to hear nothing would be done was hard to accept. I thought I had to make sure no-one ever gets in that situation again.”

Along with her friend, Ms Barker, 34 of Boxford, she set about researching date rape and set up a business to help people being attacked by detecting early-on if their drink has been spiked.

The company Laced Entrapment, which is being launched this month in Ipswich, will supply pubs, clubs, hotels, brasseries and even taxis with the kits to sell to customers.

They will then be able to carry out a spot-check on their drink or test their urine in the toilet if they think they have been spiked.

The kits will allow them the time to take action by detecting if they have been targeted by the most common date-rape drugs.

So far 19 premises in Ipswich have signed up to sell the date-rape testing kits and will display the logo in their windows. There are also plans for a confidential 24-hour hotline and to roll the scheme out nationwide.

“I have to make a difference and prevent people going through what I did,” said Miss Grinham.

Anyone who wants to find out more about Miss Grinham's business can visit the website www.lacedentrapment.vpweb.co.uk or call 07974 270322.