Guest blog post by volunteers Tegan & Corrine
Summer; warm weather, a glorious time to be outside, enjoying the outdoors, going for walks, sitting out under the sun. At least, until someone decides to invade on your private space in a public area. Street harassment (being harassed or assaulted in a public space) unfortunately seems to increase as the weather warms, and with the increase comes a need for some safety tips.
Tip # 1: Recognizing a Roofying & Intervention
There have already been a rash of reports of people being roofied in bars this season, and paramount to those situations is bystander intervention and knowing how to identify if someone has been drugged. While under the effects of the drug, the victim does not know they have been drugged and is most likely unable to ask for help themselves.
It is crucial if you witness someone who seems confused, sleepy, and has severe lack of motor control to ask them if they are ok, and ask the bar staff or security to call the necessary services. The effects of the drug begin within 30 minutes of ingestion, peak within 2 hours, and can persist for up to eight hours. The drug effects may seem similar to those of excessive alcohol consumption (which should also warrant an “Are you ok?”) and are actually aggravated by concurrent use. If a person is exhibiting symptoms, be aware of any suspicious behavior by other patrons around this person. In this situation, it is key that bystanders intervene as the victim is unknowingly under the influence of a potent drug.
Tip # 2: Know Thyself
While bystander intervention in cases of rohypnol (roofie) use is key, you can also take precautions to ensure your own safety. If you suspect you have been drugged, notify the staff immediately, as the effects can quickly take hold. Before heading out, let your friends know about the effects of the drug, so everyone in your crew can look out for each other. Lastly, only accept drinks directly from the bar staff. That cutie can still offer to buy you a drink, you just want to watch the bartender make it.
Tip #3: Candid Camera
Another form of harassment to be aware of during the summer is people who might be trying to inappropriately record or video women in an indecent manner (delicately put) without their knowledge. This has been known to occur at outdoor venues such as concerts, festivals, and in parks. In Baltimore there is one individual in particular who has been known to do this in various places, carrying an over the shoulder camera bag and usually dressed the same whenever they are out. As the corny slogan says: “if you see something, say something” (thanks Homeland Security). Get police, tell a friend, or respond to the person directly if you’re comfortable.
If you don’t feel comfortable approaching the person directly:
- Find a security guard
- Contact police (especially if you’re alone)
- Have a friend confront the person
- Call the person out by telling those around you what they are doing
Being aware of your surroundings and stepping in as an active bystander can help keep you and those around you safe this summer. If something does happen to you or a friend, just know it is not your fault and you deserve to be believed, supported, and to seek justice (however you define it). Call TurnAround’s 24 Hour Sexual Assault Hotline: 410-828-6390 if you need someone to talk to, or check out our Support Resources page for more info.