You Can Help Make DC A Safer Place To Go Out

We have some great news to share — TWENTY DC-area bars have made safety a standard of service by becoming Safe Bars certified! The Safe Bars program, a partnership between CASS and Defend Yourself, uses innovative bystander education strategies to empower bar staff to recognize and respond to sexual harassment and assault.

Everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy a night out without the fear of being harassed or assaulted, but considering over 50% of sexual assaults involve the use of alcohol as a weapon or as an excuse for aggressive behavior, bars are a natural setting to tackle this problem. Bar staff are on the frontlines of service and are already on the lookout for over-served and unruly patrons, so the Safe Bars program provides a simple, affordable extension of training that can help staff make their patrons, especially women, feel more secure. Using proven bystander intervention techniques, staff can help diffuse threatening situations by engaging potential aggressors before they cross the line.


Now, while twenty certified Safe Bars is an amazing start, we’re going to need your help to make DC a safer place to go out. The Safe Bars program has already proved successful in preventing at least one assault, and we know that the more bars we reach, the safer DC’s nightlife will become. There are many ways you can help to promote the Safe Bars program:

  • Take a Selfie at a Safe Bar! See the list of trained bars below, and make it a point to patronize them! Be sure to take a selfie with the yellow Safe Bars decal, which can usually be found in the front window of trained bars. Post your selfie on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #RaiseTheBar.
  • Host Your Next Happy Hour at a Safe Bar! If you coordinate a happy hour, sign the Safe Bars Happy Hour pledge. If your favorite HH spot isn’t a Safe Bar, let us know so we can reach out.
  • Ask Your Favorite Bar to Become a Safe Bar! Do you have a bar you’d like trained? Send us a message or tweet. Here’s a sample tweet you can use, and feel free to personalize!
  • Share Your Story! Have you been harassed or assaulted at a bar? You’re not alone. You can anonymously share your story with us.

The Safe Bars program has been completed by the following DC-area bars:

The Safe Bars training is funded in part by a grant from
Raliance, an initiative funded by the National Football League to support programs that prevent and address sexual violence.

You’re Amazing!

This #GivingTuesday, we set an ambitious goal — to raise $15,000 to launch ReThink Masculinity, a partnership with DC Rape Crisis Center and ReThink, in 2017.
Through your unwavering generosity and dedication, we exceeded our goal, raising over $17,300 for CASS’ efforts in the coming year! We’re eager to engage men in the movement against gender-based violence, and we couldn’t do it without you.


From all of us at CASS, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making our campaign so successful. More information will be coming soon about the program launch!

ReThink Masculinity This Giving Tuesday

This year, CASS has trained more than 100 people — mostly women and LGBTQGNC folks — to assertively respond to street harassment. Now we’re working with partners to build a program that will engage men in the movement to end gender-based violence.

In the new year, we want to work with 45 men to rethink masculinity and promote healthy behaviors.

In 2017, we will launch ReThink Masculinity: an eight-week program that will help men identify problematic behaviors and cultural norms, learn alternative behaviors, and join the movement stop gender-based violence.

We want to raise $15,000 to build and implement this program in 2017 — and every dollar we raise on #GivingTuesday will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $3,000.

Are you ready?

Here are FOUR ways to get involved right now:

  1. Mark your calendar for Giving Tuesday on  Tuesday, November 29th.
  2. Pledge to give.
  3. Join our Twitter Chat at 8pm on November 17th using #AllMenCan to talk about healthy behaviors and share why you support our new program.
  4. Fundraise for us! Here’s how:
      • Create your fundraising page. Visit our campaign page on Razoo, and hit the “Fundraise” button under “Join This Team!”
      • Come up with a gimmick. Can you bake a cake for everyone who gives $100? Or maybe film yourself doing a cartwheel for every $50? Get creative!
      • Set a goal that feels right for you.
      • Ask your friends to give on November 29th! (We’ll send you some social media and email templates!)
      • Get yourself started with your own personal gift on November 29th.

So, are you ready for November 29th? We are!

Got questions? Drop us a line at

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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