Here’s the poster that Our Voice volunteers are putting up in bars around Asheville in advance of Bele Chere. And here’s the information being made available to bar staff. Have fun, drink if you want to, but be careful:
Since our Bar Outreach program started in 2008 we have received many reports of suspected druggings at drinking establishments. With warmer weather these reports become more frequent. Often times these druggings do not lead to sexual assault but it is still our concern when it does happen. Many people approach Our VOICE staff asking what can be done after a drugging or just simply to let us know that there may be a new unsafe space in town.
Bar Outreach happens 4 times a year at strategic times. The dates are late December, just before NYE; April, during sexual assault awareness month; the week of Bele Chere; and again in October when colleges are in “The Red Zone”, a time when college women are most likely to experience sexual violence in their lifetimes.
Victims of druggings describe waking up hours later, with no memory of the time before – of “losing time”. Many people may not report because they are unsure of their own recollections. Often by the time the victim does suspect a drugging the substance has left their system. Our goal is to let police know each time we receive a report and they can in turn take action. Asheville Police Department Detective Mandy Buchanan says that reports to APD may prompt an undercover investigation at establishments where there are suspected druggings. There are several ways that police can be notified when an incident happens.
Reporting Options If you suspect you or someone else has been drugged, you have options to report the crime. Reporting the event helps keep tabs on the local incidence rate and informs Our VOICE outreach projects and local law enforcement efforts.
File a Police Report (Asheville PD or Buncombe County Sheriff’s Dept.). This may lead to a criminal case.
Report the incident to Our VOICE Our VOICE keeps a record of all reports, and offers counseling, crisis support, case management and medical and legal advocacy to those who experience Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault. To access any services call our 24 hour crisis line at 828-255-7576. Our VOICE can facilitate filing an anonymous, ‘blind’ report to the police. This may be our community’s best chance of combating this crime. You may provide as much or little information about the incident as you wish, but you need not supply your name. This may help law enforcement target their efforts to specific bars. In fact, we have found that blind reports are effective in reducing the incidence rate at specific bars.
Reports of these incidents are not confined to “certain kinds” of establishments in our community, we are hearing that even in “up-scale” establishments people are being drugged. It’s not just women who are targeted, it has been reported that men and even couples have been the victims of criminals wielding “date rape drugs”.
Know Your Options: If you do see something suspicious, don’t feel as if your only choices are silence or confrontation. Without speaking to the perpetrator you can, call the police, inform bar staff, inform the owner of the drink, involve the friends of a person.
Some things that can keep you safer from being drugged and Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault are:
• Never leave your drink unattended while talking, dancing, using the restroom, or making a phone call.
• At parties, don’t drink from punch bowls or other large, common open containers.
• If an establishment offers self-serve water ask for tap water. Large containers can be drugged also.
• If someone offers to get you a drink from the bar at the club or party, go with them to the bar to order it, watch it being poured, and carry it yourself.
• Watch out for your friends, and vice versa. Always leave the party or bar together.
• Never take open drinks from people you don’t really know or trust.
• If your drink has a salty taste or an odd appearance (too many bubbles, a blue tint), don’t drink it, even if you just got it from the bar.
• If you see someone acting very drunk who’s only had a little to drink, help them out. Get them a taxi, find their friends, call the police, or tell a manager.
Our VOICE can be reached 24 hours a day on their crisis line at 828-255-7576. Here is more info.
Category: Asheville News