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  • Writer's pictureSAFE Bar Network

3 Everyday Skills to Check-In and Help Out

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to uplift and support survivors. A time to bring together individuals and organizations to raise awareness and prevent domestic violence.

Not one SAFE Bar Training conversation goes by without a bartender, server, or security person sharing a time when they recognized someone was being hurt by their intimate partner. In many of these stories, employees see customers who are uncomfortable or unsafe and they don't know how to help.

In one of our first SAFE Bar Training conversations we heard a story that sticks with us to this day. Anna is a newly promoted manager at a college bar. On a busy Saturday night, she is headed from the rooftop bar downstairs to get ice. As she is walking down the stairs, she sees a couple arguing and her gut tells her that something isn’t right. She stops and says to the woman, “Hey, how’s everything going?” The woman smiles at Anna like they are long-time friends and says, “I’m so glad to see you. Will you show me where the bathroom is?” Anna and the woman walk down the stairs together. When they are away from the man she was arguing with, the woman thanks Anna and tells her that the man had been following her all night and wouldn’t leave her alone. We don't know what would have happened with the man and women that night but we do know that she was safe because Anna chose to stop and check in.

At the SAFE Bar Network, we partner with bars and other alcohol-serving venues to give everyone a safe night out. How do we do it? Through continued conversations about noticing when someone is unsafe or uncomfortable, interrupting in a way that helps, and supporting each other to take action.

The skills are simple, the magic happens when we come together to have a conversation about creating safe spaces. Here are three simple active bystander skills that you can practice every day.

1. Notice. You don’t have to be an expert on the dynamics of domestic violence or sexual harassment to notice when something isn’t right. Trust your gut. If you see someone is uncomfortable or unsafe do something to help. Watch this quick video for examples.

2. Take Action. For far too long we’ve talked about bystander intervention as if there is only one solution – to put on a cape, be the hero, and confront the person causing the problem. Yes, that works. But there are so many other options that work just as well and may be better for the situation.

· Do Something Yourself. Talk to the person causing the problem, check in with the person being hurt.

· Get Others to Help. Get your outgoing friend to say something, check in with the people around you and make it a team effort.

· Talk About Something Else. Create a cleaver distraction by starting a conversation, or say you need help finding the restroom, this is your chance to be creative.

3. Give Support. Get Support. There are going to be times when you take action and it feels really good. But there are also going to be times when you try to help someone and it’s a bit more complicated. Maybe it doesn’t feel good. Maybe you’re not sure how to feel. Tell someone you trust what happened and when the time comes, be ready to pay it forward by offering support to someone else. Learn how supporting others can change the culture, watch here.

A quick note about obstacles. There will always be things that get in the way of you helping someone when you notice something concerning. Stepping in to help is not about overcoming these obstacles, it’s about finding solutions that work for you.

SAFE Bar Training conversations are simple, manageable, and they work – but you don’t have to take our word for it. Check out these real-life, Everyday Active Bystanders.

Interested in learning more about the SAFE Bar Network and our work to give everyone a safe night out, sign up for our monthly newsletter here. Or contact us at

The SAFE Bar Network is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) you can join the team by donating your time, talent, and money to the mission of giving everyone a SAFE Night Out, just click here.

To learn more about active bystander skills check out our blog post, Obstacles. What obstacles? 3 Full Proof Everyday Active Bystander Skills.

Interested in learning more about bystander intervention? Visit our friends at With Us Center for Bystander Intervention.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment our partners can help. Visit and

To learn more about the field of violence response and prevention visit and

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