I’m getting really, really tired of hearing 1st- and 2nd-hand reports of ladies in our Seattle music community narrowly escaping (or not) sexual assault perpetrated within the clubs we all frequent. As someone who has been drugged 3 times while keeping very careful control of her drink, I can tell you that, in a public bar/club environment, there is no way to protect yourself 100% against being drugged. Someone determined to get something into your drink will find a way, cover or no cover, in your hand or on the table. Until Drinksavvy’s landmark products are released to the public, the only true protection we have is each other.
It is the responsibility of the entire community to be observant of the venue as a whole, not just the people we came with, our friends or that hot dancer you’re crushin’ on.
ONE: Alert, don’t accuse
If you see someone acting strange, keep an eye on them. Mention to others to keep an eye on them as well and give security a heads up. By no means does this mean telling everyone they are up to something or (god forbid) is guilty of something. It’s very important to understand this distinction; some people are just naturally uncomfortable in social environments and the added anxiety of the whole club suddenly singling them out may just make matters worse. Or they could just be having a bad day. It happens. Unless you see them put something in a drink, become a little too familiar with someone who doesn’t seem to be fully coherent or try to remove someone from the group they came with, don’t accuse. Just alert. Security is trained to handle situations like these, but they can’t be everywhere at once, and predators are pretty good at avoiding their attention. So tap one on the shoulder and say “That person over there has been behaving a little strange by doing [insert behavior here]. I haven’t seen them do anything, but there’s something that doesn’t seem right and you may want to keep an eye on them.” Be sure to let them know you haven’t seen any rules broken and be honest about not knowing exactly what—if anything—they are up to. With all the violence recently, odd behavior could be anything, so don’t pre-bias security thereby inhibiting their ability to gauge danger by framing their investigation in a certain way.
TWO: Don’t be presumptuous
Reserve judgment on overly-intoxicated people for the following morning. I’ve got quite a few stories where someone was socially ignored and/or shunned when they started getting embarrassingly out of control. Hell, we all can recall a time this happened to someone we knew… or… um… ourselves. Everyone else views them as being wasted or too drunk. Don’t assume this is the case. I had an ex-boyfriend literally hang up on me when I called and asked for help after being drugged at a gig. Despite me attempting to say “help, drugged,” he presumed I was so drunk I couldn’t talk. I spent the little control of my fingers I had left making that call, and with it’s end was left about 90% paralyzed, half-hanging out of the driver’s side door of my car. Completely helpless, unable to move my body or enunciate words however still acutely aware of my surroundings… or put another way: a sitting duck for my attacker. Don’t be the dick that puts someone else in this situation. Don’t assume.
Investigate. Ask questions. Figure out what they’ve chosen to ingest that day and do the math before passing judgment. That girl in the corner looking like a pile of tranquilized goo? Might not be alcohol. Make sure she’s protected since all of the usual date-rape drugs will leave her unable to physically (and sometimes verbally) defend herself. Check to see if anyone is looking out for them. If not, get someone formally associated with the event you’re at: the promoter, the bartender or a bouncer.
Security is in the house for a reason. If someone appears too intoxicated, they could be (making it dangerous for themselves and the venue) or they could be drugged (making it extremely dangerous for themselves and the venue). So let ’em know, and their friends too, should they have any floating around.
THREE: Brand the bastards
If you know someone to be a confirmed sex offender (no witch hunts here, people) let the community know. Let promoters know. They will inform club owners and security will deny entry into their establishments. Or if you’re in Seattle, tell me. I will pass the information along to a handful of community leaders managing a sex crime prevention program. One created specifically for (and by) the Seattle club scene. They have the tools and skill to investigate accusations, confirm or acquit them, then circulate the identities of offenders found to be guilty and assist in legal action.
FOUR: Bitches get stitches
I leave you all with a very serious, heavy-handed warning. To falsely accuse someone of sexual assault is worse than committing the crime itself. If anyone is found to guilty of this particular form of slander, the community will come down on you with the full weight of the law. It will not be pretty. So ladies: don’t be petty and vindictive. If some jerk does you wrong, be a grown-up about it and walk away. Or be dramatic and throw your drink in his face. Whatever. Just don’t go psycho & drag us all through unnecessary drama (only to get yourself blackballed from the scene) mmkay? If you cheated on your man and he finds out, don’t yell “rape” because you’re too chicken shit to admit you made a mistake. The truth eventually comes out and it’s not just you and the poor sap you slept with that suffers—its every woman who is legitimately attacked that suffers. False accusations are the reason why sexual assault reports are still often met with resistance or flat-out denial. So show some solidarity with your fellow females and don’t screw us over. Same goes for you jealous or vindictive guys. You’re less common, but still just as much to blame. Grow a pair and don’t be a dick. The person you want to hurt is often not the one who ends up being hurt.
*dusts off hands*
Okay, well that’s the end of that. If anyone has something to add, please do so in the comments. This is a very serious issue that affects us all. None are absolved of responsibility. Be alert. Be vigilant. Be compassionate and don’t rush to judgment. If we all are able to do that, our community can be safe again.