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Preventing rapes amid the revelry

Jules Gray grew accustomed to seeing women carried out of clubs, their skirts lifted and dignity lowered. Other clubgoers might have dismissed it as another lightweight overestimating her tolerance, but as someone who worked in the nightclub and dayclub industry for 10 years, Gray knew better.

“Girls would come in with five girls and one girl would leave, looking like that, with five guys,” she says. “It’s 10 times worse in the summer.”

There’s a distinct difference between a partygoer pushing his or her limits and a perpetrator doing it for them. Drug-facilitated rape happens often enough that the Rape Crisis Center and Tao Cares have partnered to introduce partysmartinlv.com, a website that teaches people how to stay safe while partying.

The site encourages women, among other things, not to leave drinks unattended and not to accept them if they haven’t seen them poured. It also urges men to not be “that” guy, the guy who takes “advantage of someone who has had too much to drink.”

But sometimes the crime starts before any sexual contact. Sometimes a victim has become overintoxicated against her will.

“I’ve seen people pour open capsules of pills and packets into carafes at their table. And then, when girls come to the table, they make them drinks from there,” says Gray, whose job duties included bottle hostess service. “I’ve spilled them purposely.”

The dayclubs raise other concerns. Alcohol combined with the unforgiving Las Vegas heat all but do the job for a predator, speeding intoxication and sometimes inducing illness. And the atmosphere, a giant pool of wet bodies slithering against other wet bodies with music pounding overhead, makes it easy to lose track of friends.

But if all that doesn’t end with a vulnerable clubber trusting the wrong friendly stranger then a drugged drink certainly will.

Daniele Dreitzer, executive director of the Rape Crisis Center, said a primary sign that a drink has been drugged is that the level of intoxication doesn’t align with the amount of consumption.

“The drugs work very quickly and perpetrators are watching for the person to exhibit signs,” she says. “Sometimes perpetrators use that as an excuse. ‘Oh, she’s not feeling well. I’m gonna take her out of here.’ ”

If his plan works , what comes next is sexual assault. After that, the victim may or may not report it as just more than 50 percent go that route. Yet, in this quarter alone, more than 20 percent of reported sexual assaults are thought to be drug-facilitated, per Dreitzer.

Part of the reason so many of them go unreported is that many victims struggle with self-blame, something Dreitzer worried about when launching partysmartinlv.com. She doesn’t want victims feeling guilty for not following the steps of precaution. The awareness efforts, after all, are intended to prevent the assaults not the reporting of them.

Victoria Gusto had been following the Party Smart tips before the awareness campaign ever launched. She frequents dayclubs, but always has a private cabana with bottle service. She socializes with the people she arrived with and her drinks are poured right in front of her.

Gusto also arrives at 11 a.m., while the music is still mellow and the water is still tranquil. She leaves around 3 p.m., when the headlining DJ arrives, every lounger is occupied and it’s standing pool only.

“It’s way overpacked and if you don’t have bottle service then you’re standing on the side of the wall and security is telling you to move. If you want a drink you have to walk all the way to the bar, which will take 20 minutes to get to,” she says, adding, “I know people who’ve pulled condoms out of the filter” of certain dayclub swimming pools.

Not just women are susceptible, either. Gray knows a man who’s been taken twice by women who sought him out for his wealth. Once, they drugged his drink, then took his wallet and jewelry before burglarizing his home.

It happens to men, but it’s much more common to see and hear it happening to women, she says.

“I’ve seen girls just left on bathroom floors,” Gray says. “It’s just a mess. It’s a sloppy mess.”

Contact Xazmin Garza at xgarza@reviewjournal.com
or 702-383-0477. Follow her on Twitter @startswithanx.

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