In the wake of a disturbing Facebook Live video that allegedly captures the drugging and sexual assault of a woman in a Midtown Atlanta nightclub, all of Atlanta is preparing for an increased frenzy and presence of illicit activity during Super Bowl LIII this weekend.
The video, which has since gone viral, allegedly captures the act of a man drugging a woman and sexually assaulting her. You can hear the woman pleading for “help” and saying the word “stop” during multiple points in the video.
“At this time we have met with the Atlanta Police Department and have provided them with everything they have requested,” read a statement that Opera’s management team released to CBS Atlanta. “We will continue to aid and support their investigation in any way we can. We have been asked to defer any further questions to the Atlanta Police Department Public Affairs Unit.”
While the woman’s identity is being kept confidential, reports have confirmed that she posted another Facebook Live video the day after the incident stating that the investigation is ongoing and all she wants is justice.
Incidents like the alleged sexual assault at Opera can serve as a cautionary tale for some as well as a huge eye-opener for potential safety issues may occur during high profile, well-populated events like Super Bowl and the number of festivities and parties planned for this weekend.
“We’ve been preparing for this for two years. What we realized almost immediately is that this was not going to be successful if we confined this to an Atlanta Police Department event,” said Erika Shields, Atlanta’s Chief of Police.
“We have worked collaboratively with over 40 states, local, and federal law enforcement agencies and everyone has stepped up to bat and offered their services for us.”
Shields continued, “Our goals are for the officers to be visible, the public to feel safe, be safe, and for us to position ourselves so we can react immediately to whatever scenario we are confronted with. We are to the point where we are so ready for the event.”
Kim Lee Hughes, Ph.D., the vice president of African-American Concerns at the Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development, offered insight on the current status of sexual assault in society.
“If she hasn’t said yes, she isn’t consenting. Men of my generation have been getting away with this for years. We have to get away from this culture. Women are ashamed if they find themselves in these situations and feel taken advantage of, we need to shed that vale of shame so we feel more comfortable speaking our truth.”
Hughes also recommended that people travel and remain in groups, with at least one person who “keep their wits about them” and is responsible for making sure that ever stays safe.
Licensed Clinical Therapist and guidance counselor for The Westminster School, Sandria Zomalt, gives her advice for how people should conduct themselves while partaking in the festivities.
“It’s important for Super Bowl out-of-towners to be aware of where they’re going,” Zomalt said.
“A lot of times there’s fake parties on flyers and fake promoters that may court young women and persuade them into going to secret locations or “mansion parties,” this should a raise red flag.”
Zomalt continued, “People need to travel in groups and don’t leave friends alone. Predators are going to target ones who are isolated. When we were little our mothers would always tell us to watch our drinks. Never let a guy buy a drink and bring it to you, always go to the bar with him and watch it get made, make sure you’re always aware.”
According to Auger & Auger Attorneys at Law—a Charlotte-based law firm with an office in Norcross—revelers this weekend should pack only the necessities and leave the rest at home. Make sure to bring your ID, cell phone, credit or debit card and remember to always avoid carrying large sums of cash.
This way, if something does get lost or stolen you can easily turn the card off via mobile app or make a quick call to your bank. As an added safety precaution carry something to defend yourself in case of an emergency such as pepper spray.
In addition, make sure to know how you’re getting home. If you drove with a friend, ensure that friend is sober and in the proper state of mind to safely operate a vehicle.
If you catch a taxi, Lyft, or Uber make sure to call a family member or friend to stay on the phone with you or just simply text them with updates until you have arrived home. By any means, do not accept rides from strangers under any circumstances.
Above all, always trust your intuition. If you feel as if something isn’t right, remove yourself from that situation immediately and locate a friend(s).
“We want women to feel safe in Atlanta, you can have a positive nightlife experience,” Zomalt said. “It’s up to us to protect ourselves.”