By Corrie Clapsaddle
Trigger Warning: Mentions of sexual assault, violence towards women, and graphic language.
On September 17, 2016 my boyfriend and I went to our very first Reno bar crawl (the Pokecrawl to be exact). We had been looking forward to it for weeks and were excited to spend our night having fun, themed drinks and trying to catch ‘em all. Halfway through the night, while we were at The Stick, a guy I didn’t know grabbed my butt while I walked past him.
He decided he could put his hands on me without my permission.
I was so shocked, I promptly left the bar and yelled at him.
This encounter was deeply upsetting for me, and unfortunately incidents like this happen to women frequently. Which is why I have started to work on a series about sexual assault and help share women’s experiences.
This first article takes a look at the scary realities women have to face when trying to go out for a night on the town. It is bar crawl season here in Reno, with the next one scheduled to happen Saturday, Oct. 22. I hope that in writing about this issue, it will help to bring awareness and hopefully ignite change in the Reno community to ensure everyone can have a fun, safe time.
Below is a collection of responses from women I polled on Facebook and through private messages.
While some people may consider these precautions to be silly or unnecessary, the recent outpouring of women wanting to share their own experiences of sexual assault in the wake of Donald Trump’s remarks demonstrates the real risks we women face everyday.
What are some things you worry/think about before going out for the night?
“My phone needs to be fully charged, and I can’t go out without some sort of buddy system. I won’t go out unless I have someone I trust around. Oh, and an escape plan. It sounds weird, but I didn’t have an easy escape one time and it honestly was one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made. Since then, I need to know there will be an easy way out of wherever I am.” – Gabriella De Leon, Reno, NV
“I wear high boots and put a pocket knife in my boot along with everything I bring.” – Miesha Mack, Reno NV
“Is my phone charged? Do I have a small purse so I can keep everything close to me? I usually never go out without a friend or two.” – Gabbi Forrest, Reno, NV
“I make sure my cell phone is charged and that I have my power bank and pepper spray. I also carry a knife depending on where I am going and whether it’s allowed or not. Also I make sure I will have someone with me whether it’s a trusted friend or my boyfriend because I never go out by myself if it’s past 9:00 p.m.” – Valeria Del Rio, Merced, CA
In Their Own Voices
I have preserved below several more responses from women who also wanted to share their stories. Their anger is valid, justified, and will hopefully continue to help pave the way for more individuals to come forward.
“The same kind of thing happened on Halloween freshman year when a couple of us went to a concert at the Knitting Factory [in Reno]. The place was packed and a friend and I were fighting our way through the crowd when some jerk thought it would be super funny to stick his hand out and grab the breasts of us and two girls behind us as we walked past saying ever so maturely ‘ha boobs’ each time. Before I could turn around and teach him a lesson he disappeared in the crowd and my friend was very embarrassed about the whole thing so I didn’t wanna upset her by escalating the situation. I still think about that in big crowds, and I get nervous and that’s not the way anyone should have to live their lives.” – Kimmy Latsch, Seattle, WA
One time at a gay club I got groped under my skirt by a straight guy. I immediately went to the police outside and they told me they couldn’t really do anything/press charges because I was wearing underwear. They kicked him out of the club, had him sit on the ground in cuffs and gave him a talking to, but that was it.” – Mazzy McDaid, Los Angeles, CA
“One time in Vegas, I was walking through a casino with my dad, he’s white as white can be and is obviously MUCH older than me, when a group of men made comments about me being a hooker. They thought my dad was buying me for the night and fully grabbed my butt like fucking play-doh. I turned around and told him to go to hell and went on with my night. Shortly after, I got into a club for free and without my dad and had to fight off guys who thought it was their right to ‘claim’ me for the night. I was bribed with drinks, nice dinners, and the presidential suite, whether they actually could afford something like that I don’t know. And when I said no I was called a cunt or a rude bitch who thought she was better than everyone else. I was seventeen.” – A.G., Folsom, CA
If you have a story to share, we’d love to hear from you. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.