WASHINGTON, D.C. (WDVM) — Safe Bars founder Laura Taylor had been working to prevent sexual violence in D.C. before founding this organization to bring training to restaurants, bars and other venues.
“(It made sense) to go to the places where alcohol and sexual violence intersected and bring some of the skills that we already had to try and reduce sexual violence,” Taylor said.
Safe Bars was established in 2013, when Taylor and other workers began training staff to see warning signs of sexual violence and learning how to step in and stop it.
“The restaurant industry has the highest rate of sexual harassment in any workplace in the country, so we’re focusing not only on the patron experience, but also on the worker experience,” Taylor stated.
Since then, Safe Bars has trained and certified venues all around D.C. as well as across the U.S.
“I think that it’s always something that’s important for us as a staff to be aware of and involved in,” Patrick Manili, assistant bar manager at the Anthem in D.C., said.
The Anthem was certified last year and although they are currently closed due to COVID-19, Manili stated the importance of Safe Bars’ training.
“As someone who was a bartender over a decade ago, when you’re very busy, it might be easy to forget that part of your job and responsibility is to keep an eye out for some of those warning signs,” he said. “I think it’s great that they’re bringing attention to that.”
Shaw’s Tavern is another D.C. location that has been Safe Bar certified.
“(Problems with sexual violence) haven’t been huge, just I think because of the location that we’re at, we tend to have a pretty decent crowd where people are not doing some of the things that they’ve trained us on, but overall we’re just happy to have those tools in our back pocket,” said Rob Heim, general manager at Shaw’s Tavern.
Safe Bars has continued their work via online training and workshops open to everyone throughout COVID-19. Taylor stressed the importance that anyone can learn how to be an active bystander and take part in stopping sexual violence.
“What matters is that you are a witness or an observer, and you are in the position to do something about it,” Taylor said.