DC Bartenders Train to Spot and Prevent Sexual Assault

From unwarranted touching to inappropriate remarks -- D.C. bartender Dante Datta says he's watched many forms of sexual harassment from behind the bar.

"Maybe the offhand comment from here and there, or just the unwanted sort of attention", said Datta, a bartender at the Columbia Room in Northwest.

"We’ve definitely seen instances of people speaking to other people in a way that is uncomfortable," Columbia Room owner Angie Fetherston said.

Datta is one of about 100 D.C. bartenders who are being trained on what to do during those situations as part of a program called Safe Bars.

"I think that people need to feel safe all the time. I think that people should feel comfortable in their own skin," Datta said.

Safe Bars teaches bartenders and staff to look out for the warning signs of sexual assault and to stand up against sexual harassment.

Some tactics bartenders learn include offering water to guests who become too intoxicated, or physically stepping in to distract the aggressor.


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"To sort of just put yourself in the middle and maybe put your arm right there," Datta said. "It's amazing how much more aware I am now."

Fetherston owns four bars in the District and said paying for the program was a no-brainer.

"Like, how much is it worth to be able to stop a sexual crime or somebody from getting hurt? It doesn’t have a price tag to it," she said.

Below are the 20 bars, including a coffee bar, that have gone through the Safe Bars program:

  • 801
  • Bar Charley
  • Birch & Barley
  • ChurchKey
  • Colony Club
  • Columbia Room 
  • Eat the Rich 
  • El Chucho 
  • Little Coco’s 
  • Mackey’s 
  • Mockingbird Hill 
  • Peregrine Espresso 
  • Quarry House Tavern 
  • Shaw’s Tavern 
  • Slash Run 
  • Southern Efficiency 
  • Sudhouse
According to Safe Bars' website, the organization trains people across the country to start their own Safe Bars programs.
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