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’ mission is to empower and advocate for those affected by sexual and domestic violence, child abuse and neglect. SOS believes that any kind of abuse is unacceptable and that everyone deserves to feel safe wherever they are, including bars. SOS collaborates with community partners to educate and reduce violence in Chase, Coffey, Greenwood, Morris, Lyon and Osage counties. Their newest partnership “SOS Safe Bar” is working with local bars to help them know what to do when they witness alarming behaviors in their establishment. The goal of Safe Bar Alliance is to collaborate with bars 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, who 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.
SOS does not believe that every bar is a good fit for this program, as there are some bars that will not be able to do the things that SOS requires or may not have the correct bar attitude to support the idea of Safe Bar. Therefore, 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, have SOS information 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 is excited to announce their Safe Bars in Emporia! Mulready’s Pub is the very first, they have been educated and are excited to boast the title of an SOS Safe Bar! SOS Sexual Assault Advocate Adele Clark stated, “Rick and his staff already have diversion techniques in place to keep their customers comfortable and were really eager to have other tools and ideas from SOS to utilize in their bar.” Town Royal 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 any questions about SOS Safe Bar, contact SOS at 620-343-8799.
As always, SOS advocates are available 24-7 through the SOS 24 Hour Helpline at 800.825.1295.
SOS Safe Bar is a part of the Safe Bar Alliance founded by The Care Center in Lawrence Kansas, find out more about the alliance here.