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  • Writer's pictureSAFE Bar Network

What You Think You Know About Consent.

Imagine a bear. Go ahead. Close your eyes and picture a bear.

Did you do it? What type of bear did you picture? What did it look like?

Ask ten people to “imagine a bear” and they will likely imagine ten different bears. Brown bear, koala bear, teddy bear. Me, I always imagine a giant, white polar bear.

By now you’re probably wondering, what’s the point? Great question!

This simple exercise shows us how our brains are constantly working to make connections. And how with so much information to process our brains make assumptions to speed things up and make connections more quickly.

The very same process happens when we join a conversation about sexual violence, consent, and active bystander skills. We come to these conversations with our own experiences, assumptions, and feelings.

Take conversations about consent for example. In the not too distant past, I spent 30+ hours a week talking to teenagers about consent. I walk into the room say consent and their brains make the connection to sex within seconds. The assumption for many is that consent is about sex when in reality consent is about respect and we practice consent in so many everyday ways. Hug? Will you text me? Selfie anyone?

The conversations that we are having during SAFE Bar training about consent, sexual violence, and alcohol are so important because we are creating a safe space to challenge our assumptions, change the norms, and create a culture where everyone takes action to make it a safe night out.

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

Want to learn more about consent? We’ve got resources. Tea Consent Video (teens and adults), Consent for Kids Video (kiddos), (children and teens), Understanding Consent (adults).

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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