We met Keely Field when she was in charge of Mayor Shyne’s successful 2020 campaign run for a seat on the West Hollywood City Council. Field is a self-described lifelong feminist and political activist. She currently serves as chair of the West Hollywood Women’s Advisory Board and for the past four years as Vice President of Outreach for the first feminist democratic club in all of LA County, the Heart of LA Democratic Club. She’s also a ball of energy, smarts, and advocates from a place of compassion; for women in leadership, domestic violence awareness, sexual assault victims, and also, feral cats, so it’s no surprise that Field is the driving force behind the Test My Drink cards being distributed throughout West Hollywood that quickly identifies if a drink has been spiked with drugs.
I’m still troubled from watching you publicly share your trauma during West Hollywood’s Nighttime Safety Study Session last August. I witnessed your body slowly shake and bottom lip quiver as you recalled the attack and aftermath. (Sotile was sitting across from Field on the panel as a member of the LGBTQ+ Advisory Board) Did the idea for the Test My Drink cards to be distributed at local clubs and restaurants come from your personal experience?
Ever since that horrific, life altering day on New Year’s Eve nine years ago, I am triggered every time I walk into a bar or club. I wanted to find a solution for myself and others to feel safe, to take away vulnerability and be able to enjoy our time out in the world again. Through research I found Test My Drink cards. In real time, these cards allow us to test our drink and have 100% assurance that what’s in the glass has not been spiked, or laced with GHB or Ketamine. If only I had a Test My Drink card at the club that night. I could have simply taken my straw, put a small dab from the one and only drink I had that fateful evening onto the circle on the card and wait a minute or two to see if the color circle turned blue. Then, not only would I have had physical evidence of the crime committed against me, but I would not have sipped from that drink at all, and I would not have ended up blacked out, half naked, raped and left bleeding on a bathroom floor in a swanky Hollywood night club oblivious to the hundreds of party goers counting down to the new year.
I was found by a good Samaritan on the floor of a locked women’s bathroom stall. She literally saved me and drove me across town to the Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica, after stopping at Cedars-Sinai and being told they do not provide or perform rape kits. One of these cards would have saved me and I could have called the police right then and there, and point out the perp, a friend of a friend, who bought me that drink while we were chatting at the upstairs bar.
I never received justice even with a detailed police report and witness interviews. This perp was never arrested, charged, or even detained. I fear he’s continuing his brutal attacks to this day.
Take us through the process of securing support from the West Hollywood City Council.
I initially attended a City of West Hollywood Public Safety Commission meeting in the fall of 2021. I gave first hand testimony of my very painful survival story and submitted a written account that included the daily trauma I live with. I am grateful that all of the commissioners embraced me that night with sincere support.
I then started sending emails to WeHo City Council and was determined to get Test My Drink cards at every bar and club in the entire city. I gave public comments at city council meetings about the ongoing drink spiking occurring at many bars in the city, and how 99% of the assaults were not being reported to the sheriffs out of fear, and shame.
By February 2022, Test My Drink cards were a proposal item on the official city council meeting agenda. I called in public comment and again told my horrific experience of surviving drugging and assault and explained the reason the test cards were vital to have at every business in the city that serves drinks.
They are a preventive tool that would deter perps away, plus, put the power in the hands of the patron.City council passed the item unanimously.
It then took another 6 months of meetings, checking in with city staff and councilmembers to make the Test My Drink cards a reality in our city. There were delays regarding budget and managing the rollout, but finally in August 2022, myself, along with other city officials, handed out hundreds of the test cards to all the bars along Santa Monica Blvd and Robertson. Several TV news stations reported on a very successful rollout. I continued to send heartfelt emails to city staff, city manager, and city council about needing the cards permanently and freely available in all of our city businesses. Every week I would check in with city staff as to when we could do handouts to ALL the businesses.
In October 2022, I was informed that the City entered into a contract with the LA LGBT center for its WeHo Life program to regularly purchase and distribute test cards to businesses.
This is the best possible way for more people to have access to the cards when and where they need them. The key is getting the cards to as many people as possible and the WeHo Life contract will make that happen on a regular, consistent basis by providing supply to the businesses. In addition, they will provide regular updates to the city on the number of test cards distributed and number of businesses participating so the city manager will be able to evaluate the program going forward.
What is the feedback from businesses? How does it work?
Feedback has been good from the businesses overall. Local business owners, even hairdressers reached out to me directly to request as many test cards as possible to hand out (and have freely available) at their businesses. The employees and bartenders at Rocco’s WEHO have been supportive from day one. The Test My Drink cards are openly available and freely able to take from bowls and containers displayed at the bar.
Each kit has 10 cards in them, with 2 sets of test circles on each card, and these cards don’t expire for 3 years. They are the size of a business card, and provide a sense of security that no drugs, GHB or Ketamine (which is 100% tasteless, colorless, and odorless), have been put in your drink or water, which can be spiked too.
What is your ultimate goal for Keely’s Test Strips, which they are referred to as on the street?
I’m on a mission to get these vital Test My Drink cards in every city, in every county, all across California and also the nation. They cost less than $1, and are easily available on Amazon.
My goal is to go to Congress and give a first-hand account of the PTSD, fear and trauma that a person is inflicted with when they are the victim of a spiked and laced drink and secure more protections on a larger scale, including these vital test cards.
Research shows one third of women have either been spiked themselves or know someone who has.
I’ve personally spoken with over 42 survivors who were victims of drugged & spiked drinks and in most cases, sexually assaulted. Only one of the 42 victims reported the crime to the police. She was then sued by the owner of the bar for slander. It left her bankrupt and broken.
I know the shame. I was 33, in bloody clothes, cuts on my arms and legs, trying to file a rape report with an unsympathetic, very bored police officer.
100% of the open cases in West Hollywood filed by victims of assault and spiked drinks have not been solved, which means zero arrests have been made. This is unacceptable, and we as citizens cannot allow this to continue in any city. Test My Drink cards are a preventive tool that work. Since learning of them four years ago I don’t ever enter a bar, club or restaurant without one on hand.
Thank you for helping me spread the word. These cards are so vital for safety and to help prevent druggings and assaults every single day.