May 5, 2016

Lauren Taylor, co-director

Jessica Raven, co-director

Safe Bars Website Launches with One Month of Free Trainings for Bar Staff on Recognizing and Interrupting Unwanted Sexual Aggression

WASHINGTON, DC–Have you ever been sexually harassed in a bar? Chances are that you have, especially if you’re a woman.

Safe Bars, a program of Collective Action for Safe Spaces and Defend Yourself, uses innovative bystander education strategies to empower DC-area bar staff to stand up against sexual harassment and assault.

Safe Bars will offer free training to bar staff on recognizing and interrupting unwanted sexual aggression until June 5.

Safe Bars is a win-win for patrons and bar owners. Bar-goers can enjoy their evening knowing the staff have been trained to notice and interrupt unwanted sexual aggression, and that bar staff have their back when they need it. Bar owners can build customer satisfaction and loyalty, because a safe environment allows patrons to enjoy themselves — and want to come back.

Safe Bars also includes the Happy Hour Pledge, asking happy hour organizers to host their events in bars that have completed the training to become certified Safe Bars.

“We know from the research and the stories shared on our blog that alcohol is routinely used as a weapon to incapacitate targets of sexual violence,” says Jessica Raven, co-director of Safe Bars and Executive Director of Collective Action for Safe Spaces. “That puts bar staff in a unique position to intervene and prevent assault.”

“Bars and clubs should be safe places where people can enjoy themselves without worrying about being assaulted or harassed,” says Lauren R. Taylor, co-director of Safe Bars and director of Defend Yourself. “Our training helps bars make sure their patrons can focus on having a good time while knowing the staff is looking out for them.”

“Safe Bars is starting important conversations on how we can work together to make our communities — small and large — safe and welcoming for people of all backgrounds and identities,” says Jamie Leeds, chef and owner of Hank’s Oyster Bar, one of the first bars to take the training.

Safe Bars website launches today at


Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) is a grassroots organization that works to empower people in the DC metropolitan area to build a community free from public sexual harassment and assault.