These Bartenders Are Fighting Sexual Harassment

Earlier this month, CASS collaborated with Mic on a new video promoting our Safe Bars program. The innovative Safe Bars program teaches bar staff via a flexible, two-hour training to respond to sexual harassment and prevent it from escalating to assault. Since the program’s inception, over twenty bars in DC have stepped up as Safe Bars.


A study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that 1 out of every 4 women will experience some form of sexual assault in their adolescence or early adulthood, and at least half of those crimes occur while the perpetrator and/or victim was under the influence of alcohol. Equipped with the Safe Bars training, bar staff are able to recognize and respond to incidents of harassment and assault, allowing patrons to feel safer while enjoying a night out.

The Safe Bars program has not only seen success in its designation of over twenty bars in DC, but in the implementation of the training mechanisms taught in the two-hour program. As featured in this Upworthy article, two bartenders at local a safe bar, Churchkey, noticed a man aggressively interacting with a woman who had been drinking alone at the bar. The two bartenders intervened on three occasions to dissuade unwanted advances from the man and ultimately confronted him when he went in for an unwanted kiss. The bartenders ultimately assured the safety of the woman and helped her get a ride home.  

The Safe Bars program is currently in the process of expanding to Denver, Portland, Seattle, and Philadelphia.

We’re looking to supporters like you to help build the Safe Bars movement! CASS is currently looking for recommendations for local alcohol-serving establishments — particularly in the NE, SE, and SW — to participate in the Safe Bars program. If there is a bar you would like to see trained, please reach out to jayni@collectiveactiondc.org.

Bystander Intervention Training in Action

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Time: Night (7:30pm-12am)
Location: Petworth

I was walking home and heard sobbing and shouting from across the street. As I crossed, I saw a man holding a woman around her waist and pulling her down the block. I sped up until I was a little behind them and decided to intervene by asking ‘Hey, are you okay?’ as I learned in the CASS training.

The woman was crying very hard and didn’t answer me but her abuser let her go and came to yell at me. He called me a bitch and I backed up some and told him that he didn’t need to speak to me like that, I was just asking if she was okay.

As he was heading back to the woman, a police car came around the corner and parked near the couple. The officers got out and separated the couple, arresting him. Someone else had seen and called 911.

I went to speak to the woman and we sat down on a bench. She was in shock and panicking, we sat down and I introduced myself. We did some breathing exercises together to help her regain calm. I offered to stay with her until the police were done, she said yes so I did and we talked until she said was feeling more in control and able to head home.

I’m thankful that CASS helped prepare me to best support her.

Submitted 1/7/17 by “KS”

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault? Share your story to help raise awareness about the pervasiveness and harmful effects of street harassment. All submissions are posted anonymously unless otherwise specified.

If you experience or have experienced sexual harassment on the DC Metro system: Whether the event is happening at the moment or occurred months ago, we strongly encourage you to report to Metro Transit Police (MTP): www.wmata.com/harassment or 202-962-2121. Reporting helps identify suspects as well as commons trends in harassment. You can program MTP’s number into your phone so you can easily reach them when needed.

If you need assistance in coping with public sexual harassment or assault, please contact the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) 24/7 crisis hotline at 202-333-RAPE (202-333-7279).

End Violence Against Sex Workers

Violence against sex workers is not just violence against sex workers—it’s also violence against transwomen, against women of color, against drug users, against immigrants.

Some quick stats:

This International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, we joined HIPS, the DC Center, and other organizations to memorize all those who have suffered violence for their involvement with sex work–particularly the 23 trans women who were killed just this past year.

The event included a vigil, a program of speakers and performers, and a reception and balloon release to show our support.

#DVAM: October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Thousands of advocates, allies, and survivors are speaking up this Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM).

Like all forms of abuse, domestic violence is fueled by silence. It thrives when communities do not recognize problematic behaviors or speak out against systematic patterns of power and control; and it is thwarted by awareness, action, and support.

What can you do to spread the word this month and help to end domestic violence? Add your voice to building safer communities by participating in the DVAM Week of Action with us!

October 17 – Media Monday
Participate in the #31n31 campaign challenging perceptions about domestic violence on social media.

October 18 – Twitter Chat
Join a Twitter chat hosted by NNEDV from 2-3pm using the hashtag #CenterEachOther. Questions will be sent out in English from @NNEDV and in Spanish from @WomensLaw.

October 20 – #PurpleThursday
Wear purple to show your support for preventing and ending domestic violence! Share your images with us using #PurpleThursday and tagging @SafeSpacesDC and @DCCADV

October 22 – Shout-Out Saturday
Celebrate the people you admire who speak out for survivors and use their voices to make a difference.

Ongoing Activities
For a full list of ongoing activities for the #SpreadLoveDC campaign (including chalking, social media posts, and more), click here.

We also encourage you to share your stories with us, or seek help and resources from the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence (DCCADV), the National Street Harassment hotline, and D.C.’s crime victims hotline.

Men: Eradicating Rape Culture is Our Charge

Earlier this summer writer Jody Allard articulated some of the the reprehensible circumstances surrounding a 2015 Stanford sexual assault in the article “Rape Culture Is A Man Problem. Why Aren’t More Men Speaking Up?” Allard wrote “I realize now that no woman can change how little our lives matter in this system. It’s up to the men who created that system…to create a better system.”

This sentiment resonated with me and my mind went immediately to the case of Relisha Rudd, an 8-year-old girl from Washington, DC who has been missing since March 2014.

When it was clear Relisha Rudd’s case would not be solved, I just thought everyone failed her. Social services, the homeless shelter, schools, teachers, her caretakers, cops, investigators, and all of us for devaluing her life from birth to now. It was a systematic failure, something we only recognize way after the fact.

When I look back at something like the Stanford sexual assault case, I feel similarly. We failed the woman who survived the sexual assault.

But it was not just one failure, on one level.

It seemed to cascade down from support for the perpetrator being seen as normal and necessary, to the idea that survivors must report their assault to the authorities in order to be considered believable, to the shockingly lenient sentence given for sexual assault.

And these circumstances are common and occur beyond this one case.

All this goes to say that for me the first step is realizing that misogyny, rape culture, and sexism in general are not simply personal shortcomings. They are not character flaws we can un-teach individual “bad people.”

They are the way we live our lives.

Not embedded in our way of life. They are our way of life.

That’s not an easy conclusion to come to. But that means to even begin to deconstruct them in a real and meaningful way, we men and male identified people must be open to criticism and examination of everything we do. Nothing is off the table.

Sometimes as men, we may ask, Well, what am I supposed to do? or How do I remedy x situation? Your friend says a wack sexist comment, you find yourself and your partner stuck in the trap of traditional gender roles, you find out someone you know was sexually assaulted, or any revelation that results in you thinking how can I be part of a solution?

I’m really putting this question out there because I don’t have the wisdom or knowledge to say how and when we should act in these situations.  What we do need, however, is to get beyond solely looking to address specific incidents of assault and harassment without acknowledging why they are so prevalent and how we can flip this reality.

We need to begin thinking not only about changing how we act at any moment in time, but also our behavior in general. We need to reflect on how our behavior affects other people. Then we resolve to do better the next time. And do even better the time after that.

We must talk to other men, hold them accountable, and not turn the other way or stay silent when we see sexual assault or harassment.

I want to hear other men’s ideas about busting up damaging gender roles in our interpersonal relationships, about things you’ve done to confront sexist ideas and displays in all-male environments, and about alleviating the sentiment that we aren’t participating in rape culture solely because we haven’t sexually assaulted a woman or harassed a woman on the street. It’s just plain deficient to say we’re allies without critiquing ourselves and acknowledging our role in oppressive systems.

Talking with other men about feminism and how we define and end rape culture is imperative. That certainly doesn’t mean we’ll get everything perfect all the time, but gets the machine parts moving, avoiding stagnation.

I believe men can stop rape, sexual assault, and street harassment in the name of eradicating rape culture.

Jody Allard is right. This is a man problem and we need to address it now.

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