SOS safe bars offer stress free socializing

Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault – how a person dresses, how much they drink or who they kiss does not matter. However, many times these are questions asked of survivors of sexual assault. SOS believes that any kind of abuse is unacceptable and that everyone deserves to feel safe wherever they are, including at bars. SOS collaborates with community partners to educate and reduce violence in Chase, Coffey, Greenwood, Morris, Lyon and Osage counties.

SOS’s newest partnership is “SOS Safe Bar” – working with local bars to help them know what to do when they witness alarming behaviors in their establishment, and help to keep their staff and customers safer from predatory behavior, sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Most people are told to watch out for date rape drugs like GHB and rohypnol while out and about, but alcohol is most often the substance used to perpetrate sexual violence. SOS hopes that Safe Bars will allow people to socialize in bars without the stress of predators bothering them, and with the relief of knowing their bartender has been trained by SOS to help prevent sexual assault.

The SOS Safe Bar idea came from The Care Center in Lawrence, which started the Safe Bar Alliance. The Care Center provided SOS the training materials and information they use for the Safe Bar Alliance and provided information on how to implement it in Emporia. Not every bar is a good fit for this program, as there are some bars that will not be able to do some of the things that SOS requires or may not have the correct bar attitude to support the idea of Safe Bar. SOS will only be asking business to be SOS Safe Bars after much consideration from the entire SOS team.

After accepting to be an SOS Safe Bar, SOS will educate bar staff on how to intervene in potentially negative situations, when to take action and how to help prevent sexual violence. SOS and bar staff will discuss what the staff experiences specific to their business and create an action plan for each situation. SOS Safe Bars have SOS contact information readily available and posted in their business and have coasters with SOS 24-7 helpline listed. Safe Bar staff will be available to any patrons for assistance and patrons are encouraged to seek help from bartenders when they are feeling uncomfortable or if someone is bothering them.

SOS announced its first Safe Bar in Emporia, Mulready’s Pub. Another bar has recently committed to becoming a Safe Bar and will be meeting with SOS soon to discuss the program and start working on techniques for safety.

Everyone has the right to go out and drink, have fun, and be safe. For information about being involved in the SOS Safe Bars program, contact SOS at 620-343-8799. As always, SOS advocates are available through the SOS 24-Hour Helpline at 800-825-1295.

Information thanks to SOS.

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