Most people in New Orleans have heard of or visited Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge on Oak & Adams Street uptown or Circle Bar in Lee Circle. Snake & Jake’s is known for having a 7-10 pm Happy Hour and being one of the last spots you visit on your drinking binges. They’re notorious for serving underage college students and for being a local favorite where you can always find cocaine. Snake & Jake’s is rumored to let topless or naked women drink for free. It’s also rumored to have once a hot spot for illegal cock and dog fighting.
The first few times I went to Snakes, I was freshly 18 and so drunk that I barely remember being there and couldn’t have told you directions from Loyola’s dorms. I now live a stone’s throw away from the bar and take Uber instead of walking in the very early morning because I’ve nearly been hit by drunk drivers or have been followed by groups of inebriated men.
This past weekend, my best friend was sitting at another bar, Carrolton Station, when a man engaged in conversation with her. He asked why she never went to Snake and Jake’s and then mentioned that he was the owner. She explained that she went to Snake’s occasionally but grew wary of it after her friend was threatened at gunpoint when trying to leave, and after another friend had been assaulted after drinking there a few months prior. The owner jumped in, mentioning to my friend how NOPD had called him in June because a female patron claimed to have been roofied and assaulted. He shook it off and said that NOPD and the woman hadn’t followed up with him and that he had no idea why the woman wouldn’t just come out and tell him about the assault in the first place.
He talked about how they had cameras now and he “called bullshit” on the woman and her story. My friend explained that sometimes it takes a while to come forward after being assaulted and that it’s a painful and hard process. The owner told her it wasn’t hard to talk about it (rape/sexual assault) if it actually happened and that he called bullshit on the whole thing since the woman wouldn’t contact him directly. He simply didn’t believe it. He continued to victim-blame and repeatedly called bullshit on these reports, belittling the struggles of assault survivors. My friend eventually told him to fuck off, tipped her bartender, and left.
The friend who got raped was me. In June of 2016, I had pre-gamed with my roommate and walked the block and a half to Snake’s to meet some friends. I didn’t return home that night and didn’t remember leaving. I woke up to being assaulted. Within hours of the silent car ride where my attacker dropped me back off at the bar, I began swelling up all over my body. I had huge fiery splotches all over my hands, legs, sides, back, butt, and my eyes even began swelling up. When I was in high school and in an abusive relationship, I had similar physical reactions. After five years of recovery and healing, my swelling came back and has been reoccurring since this assault. After hearing my best friend talk about this encounter with the owner of Snake & Jake’s and Circle Bar, I realized he is a not a man whose business I want to support. People who don’t believe rape victims are a major reason why rape victims don’t report their assaults.
Just this week, I was able to gather my wits and ask my advisor to help me report my assault through NOPD, which is a time-consuming and traumatizing process that took a lot of encouragement and support to go through. It’s important to note that there are options when you’re assaulted and that you don’t have to report the assault to police if you don’t want to. It’s completely your choice and your credibility sure as hell isn’t based on whether or not you contacted the owner of the bar at which you were assaulted.
A few things I have to say about what the owner of Snake & Jake’s had to say:
1. Some men are lucky enough to believe that being raped, abused, or assaulted isn’t hard to talk about.
It is, it’s a process. It’s a long process and you end up repeating your story and reliving the process about 12 times if you go through the process of getting a rape kit, reporting to police, filing a report, etc.
2. Some men are so proud of owning something, they believe they should be contacted directly and immediately if someone is drugged and assaulted at their establishment.
However, if you’re robbed at a gas station, normally you call the police before the owner of the gas station. Just because he owns Snake & Jake’s doesn’t mean women owe it to him to report their assaults before they go to the police. She was talking about me when she spoke of her friend who was assaulted this past summer. And he was talking about a completely different woman and assault that happened the same month I was assaulted. This is a bar where at least two assaults happened in June of this summer and where I personally know 6+ women who have been assaulted after drinking there since I came to Loyola in 2012. It’s safe to say this is still a problem. It’s also to safe to say that the owner of this bar is an asshole who doesn’t believe women and thinks that survivors owe him something. NEWSFLASH: THEY DON’T.
3. Not believing survivors of assault is a luxury that only people who have never been assaulted have.
The fact that the woman was strong enough to repeat her assault to the NOPD is enough. The fact that the NOPD actually called the owner of Snake & Jake’s about the woman’s report is a good sign. However, the delay in the case may be because the NOPD sex crimes unit is severely understaffed and backlogged. I have a rape case from 2013 that is still under investigation – this stuff takes time for victims to talk about and takes time to be investigated.
4. The false reporting rates for rape and assault are equivalent to false reporting rates for any crime and are therefore statistically insignificant.
So there’s no need to bring up false reports when speaking about assaults, ever. When people talk about women making up stories of assault for attention or revenge, they’re lying. Those are myths, in fact the statistics on rape are underreported since the stigma around rape is so negative.
That is why you shouldn’t support Snake & Jake’s or Circle Bar anymore.