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Does drug-detecting nail polish work?

We often hear about new gadgets to prevent sexual assault like drug-detecting nail polish and straws, compact tasers, and condoms for your drink. The thought is in the right

place with these products but we should think twice about them because there is harm in harm reduction.


These products, often marketed to women, assume all victims are women, all perpetrators are men, and inadvertently place responsibility on the victim to prevent sexual violence. This can lead to increased guilt and self-blame when a sexual assault does occur.


First, know the facts. Violence affects all genders.

1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. (RAINN)

1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. (RAINN)

Sexual assault is about one of two things and neither of them can be adverted with tips on keeping your drink safe or what not to wear to the club.

1. Having power and control over another person

2. Using someone as a sexual object for gratification

We talk about harm reduction products like drug-detecting straws because it makes us feel safer, and we all want to feel safe. The reality is that harm reduction products and tips don’t stop someone from sexual assaulting another person. If we want to end sexual assault and harassment, if we want to really be safer, we have to shift responsibility to the people causing harm and make interrupting harmful behavior a priority not of individuals but of the whole community.

SAFE Bar Training is focused on proactively creating a culture where employees notice concerning behavior, interrupt effectively, and provide support to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault.

If you have a favorite bar, restaurant or night club encourage them to join the SAFE Bar Network. They can learn more at www.safebarnetwork.org

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

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

To learn more about the field of sexual violence response and prevention visit PreventConnect and NSVRC.

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