Bars in the U.S. are following a trend started in the UK; posting signs in women’s restrooms about how to alert staff if they don’t feel safe with their date. Sexual Violence and Abuse Strategy Coordinator for Lincolnshire County Council, Hayley Child, launched the “Ask for Angela” campaign last year.
Stateside, the campaign has a slightly different moniker – Angel Shots – but it functions in the same exact way.
“We’d seen that a few individual pubs around the country had done similar messages at the bar saying that if people’s dates weren’t going well the bar staff would help and call them a cab,” Child told BBC News. “We wanted to do this in a more organized way.
How to Order an Angel Shot
The rise and popularity of online dating sites and apps has led, at least anecdotally, to an increase in awkward outings with people met in the digital space. According to Child, having a plan of action ahead of time is playing it safer. The strategy is simple and effective. In the U.S., bathroom posters share the following message:
“Are you on a date that isn’t going well? Is your Tinder or Plenty of Fish date not who they said they were on their profile? Do you feel unsafe or even just a bit weird? We’re here to help. Just go to the bar and order an Angel Shot.”
- Angel Shot, neat – your bartender will escort you to your car
- Angel Shot, with ice – your bartender will call an Uber or Lyft for you
- Angel Shot, with a lime – your bartender will call the police
“We’ll handle this discreetly and without a lot of fuss,” reads the sign in Patrick Molloy’s, a Hermosa Beach, California, watering hole. Posters just like this are showing up in bar bathrooms across the country and even as far as Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Germany.
“There is that social pressure, particularly when you’re in a situation that hasn’t turned violent yet, but is making you uncomfortable, it’s always hard to speak up,” Scott Berkowitz said in an interview with USA Today.
President of the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), Berkowitz added, “…I think it’s great that bars are encouraging them to [speak up] and letting them know they can get help.”
Safe Dating and Social Media
Many of the dating apps include safety suggestions, such as meeting dates in a public setting, avoiding getting intoxicated, and not relying on a ride from an individual you just met. An Angel Shot provides yet another way to sidestep potentially dangerous situations.
“I think it’s amazing,” Amanda Koss, a Hermosa Beach resident, tells ABC7 News, “especially with this day and age where you’re online dating and you’re going on a bunch of blind dates…you need a system just to make sure you’re safe.”
Sharon Papa, Hermosa Beach police chief, has taken the extra step of promoting the Angel Shot campaign citywide and is working with area bars and restaurants on “crime prevention through environmental design.” This means better lighting, keeping music volume lower and paying closer attention to the clientele coming and going.
The “Angel Shot” and “Ask for Angela” campaigns spread quickly across social media and into local establishments because staying safe and empowered saves people’s lives and creates a better, more caring community.