Local Bars Adopt the Angel Shot Program
A night out on the town can be an intimidating experience when going out alone or meeting up with a stranger for the first time. Even within the comfort of a small town, the experience is not without risk. One local nonprofit is partnering with bars in downtown Marietta to add an extra measure of safety. Enter, the angel shot.
Originating in St. Petersburg, FL, the angel shot is (surprise!) not a drink – it’s a code that signals to the bartender when someone doesn’t feel safe. Here’s how it works: Order an angel shot neat, and a bartender will escort you to your car. Ask for it “on the rocks” and the bartender will call a taxi or Uber. Order it with lime, and they will call the police. The code was inspired by a similar movement in London called “Ask for Angela.”
We know that there is a very real fear of going out alone.
“The Angel Shot program was a dream of our prevention team that came into reality,” said Caitlin Simmons, a Prevention Specialist at Eve, Incorporated. That dream was to prevent violence in every demographic. “One of our prevention specialists, Kate Davis, was searching for ways to lower the incidence of stalking, date rape, and other forms of violence that, while not caused by alcohol, often go hand in hand.”
After her initial research, Kate began walking from bar to bar in the evenings to talk with staff and managers, as well as local men and women to discover what would make them feel the safest. “We know that there is a very real fear of going out alone,” said Simmons. “Dates that go wrong, dates that felt ‘just a little off,’ and the fear of meeting someone is very real for many individuals, especially women.”
The Town House was one of the first bars to sign up with Eve, Incorporated to participate in this project. “We are not just a ‘small town,’ we are a community. We feel it is essential for us to play our part,” said Anna Rogers, Events and Special Projects Manager at the Town House.
As a manager, Rogers said she has personally witnessed people in the wrong situation. “With our large increase in traffic over the summer, we had many ‘new’ faces for our live music on the patio. That’s one of the main reasons I was thankful that Eve, Inc. took the initiative and implemented the Angel Shot Program,” said Rogers. “As our customer base and traffic increase, we want to do our part to keep everyone safe.”
Our use of code words is to respect the privacy and safety of any individual who may not have the words to explain the situation they are in.
Along with the Town House, Gators, the Hookah Lounge, and The Galley and The Adelphia Music Hall have signed up to participate, with additional locations interested and ready to join in. The deadline to be a part of the Angel Shot program is January 30th. Those interested in participating are invited to contact Eve, Inc. for more information.
Participating bars and restaurants have hung signs in their bathrooms, visible to anyone who visits the location. “The signs provide the language that a victim may need, removing the need to give a longer explanation, which may endanger them further,” said Simmons. “Our use of code words is to respect the privacy and safety of any individual who may not have the words to explain the situation they are in, to prevent complications, and to respect the privacy and safety of any individual who may be victimized.” In addition to staff training, local law enforcement have also been briefed about this project, she said, so they are familiar and can respond quickly.
“So far, the program has taken off!” said Simmons. “We couldn’t believe the feedback we were getting – the added measure of safety was appreciated by bar patrons, but the bars themselves were thrilled to have the opportunity to be so vocal about their 0 tolerance policies.”
While some have criticized the promotion of such efforts in other cities as compromising the program’s intent, Simmons believes that the more openly the issues are discussed, the more effective they become. “We believe that violence is not something to be hidden, and because of this, our signs are in both bathrooms. We believe that violence can happen to any person, male or female, and no matter their sexual orientation,” she said.
When a violent or abusive person knows that their behavior will not be tolerated, they are less likely to act in a violent or abusive way.
1 in 4 women experience domestic violence and 1 in 9 men experience domestic violence, according to Eve, Inc. “If we only notify women of our program, we will exclude men who need safety as well. We also know from research that the signs are effective even when an abuser may see them.”
Many locations who have implemented the Angel Shot program have found that the incidence of violence or harassment has dropped to zero, she said. “When a violent or abusive person knows that their behavior will not be tolerated, they are less likely to act in a violent or abusive way.” Eve, Inc. also believes that speaking up about the program provides another layer of protection – knowing which bars are participating adds comfort for patrons.
“At the Town House, we want everyone to feel like they are part of the family,” said Rogers, “and part of that is not only feeling safe, but being safe.”