What if we lived in a society in which we could always expect a stranger to defend us against sexual assault? Since, instead, we live in a society where judges often defend rapists, that feels like an impossible dream and rape culture feels disgustingly alive and well. But that’s why programs like SafeBars are trying to create a culture of intervention and community protection.
The program, run by Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), has so far been launched in Washington D.C., and its associates train bartenders and staff at restaurants where alcohol is served to intervene and deescalate incidents of sexual harassment or assault, protecting their patrons.
While SafeBars is focusing on establishments that serve alcohol, it stresses the fact that alcohol DOES NOT CAUSE rape.
As Jessica Raven, executive director of CASS, told A Plus, “We’re focusing on alcohol-serving establishments because, while alcohol doesn’t cause sexual assault, aggressors use alcohol as a weapon or an excuse in about 50 percent of sexual assaults… That puts bar staff in a unique position to intervene.”
CASS has already seen real-life examples of the program working to keep women safe. At a bar, a man kept putting his arm around a woman despite her objections. When the man stepped away to use the restroom, the SafeBars-trained bartender asked the woman if she needed any help. When she expressed that need, the bartender helped to sneak her out through the bar’s back entrance and called her an Uber home.
If only these kinds of programs weren’t needed — but they are, and that’s why it’s so wonderful to see these kinds of steps being taken to keep women safe without blaming them.
And community intervention works — remember those three badass women who stopped a date rape and got a date rapist arrested?
Let’s promise to keep each other safe!