Safe Bars: DC Movement Enlists Bartenders and Bouncers to Protect Victims of Sexual Aggression


Safe Bars is a Washington D.C.-based movement dedicated to preventing sexual harassment and assault in nightclubs and bars. Organizers urge nightclub owners and staff to protect their patrons from sexual aggression through training and intervention.

The Safe Bars campaign, designed by Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) and Defend Yourself, “trains and empowers staff at alcohol-serving establishments to recognize and respond to incidents of sexual harassment and assault among staff and patrons.”

Safe Bars Works To:

  • Increase bar staff understanding of the scope and causes of unwanted sexual aggression;
  • Increase bar staff recognition of inappropriate behavior along the continuum of sexual and relationship violence;
  • Provide bar staff with the skills needed to respond to such behavior safely and appropriately, whether by stepping in as a bystander or when asked for help;
  • Share with bar patrons safety messages that encourage respect and lets customers know that bar staff are available for help;
  • Actively promote bars that adopt safety standards;
  • Award “Safe Bar” certification to bars that complete the training.

Why Bars?

Bars are a great place to address sexual assault prevention for a variety of reasons. They are social gathering places where alcohol is readily available, and though many people are able to safely enjoy themselves, sexual aggressors may use these types of environments as a “staging ground” for selecting, isolating, and even incapacitating their target. Nearly 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime. Approximately half of all sexual assault perpetrators are under the influence of alcohol at the time of the assault. CASS regularly receives submissions from the DC community on unwanted sexual attention, including harassment and groping, that takes place in local bars and clubs.

Why Bystanders?

Bystander intervention is a key approach to preventing sexual violence. Bar owners, managers, security personnel, and other staff are in a unique position to observe and intervene to prevent sexual assault by creating a safe space for patrons. Evaluations of bystander intervention programs such as Green Dot have shown significant decreases in participants’ acceptance of rape myths and increases in both reactive and proactive bystander behaviors.

Safe Bars empowers bystanders with skills to:

  1. Identify high-risk behaviors of potential perpetrators;
  2. Intervene either proactively or reactively;
  3. Overcome barriers to taking action.

Does It Work?

Safe Bars builds on the success of similar programs in Arizona and Boston. Research has shown that bartenders, bar staff and young adults who patronize bars are key populations to address in preventing sexual violence.

Read More at Safe Bars

Our Legal Take

By law, bar and nightclub owners are required to protect all patrons legally on the premises from any foreseeable harm.  We applaud Safe Bars and those nightclub owners and security managers who take a proactive approach to venue security and safety, training their staff to recognize and respond to incidents of sexual harassment and aggression before they escalate.

We’ve Recovered Millions for Victims of Nightclub Security and Safety Negligence…Contact us Now for a Free Consultation.

Headline Frame Fox News FireThe Murray Law Firm has an extensive and successful record representing victims of nightclub security and safety negligence. We have recovered millions of dollars for our Clients, and we recently obtained a $29.25 million dollar verdict for a victim of an unsafe property. We offer our legal assistance, if desired.

We represent our Clients on a contingency agreement, which generally means that no fees or payments are owed until and unless we recover.  Anyone seeking further information or legal representation is encouraged to contact us via e-mail (click here) or by telephone at 888.842.1616. Consultations are free and confidential.

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