Panic button and bartender code word: how to get out of a date that has become dangerous
When the companion is too intrusive when you feel you're not safe and when you just want to leave, who should you ask for help?
In 2016, a social initiative was launched, developed by the local government in Lincolnshire, England, which asked girls the question: "Are you on a date that isn't working out? Has the Tinder guy turned out not who he said he was in the correspondence? Do you feel like you're not in a safe situation? Does all this seem strange to you?"
Placards and posters with these or similar questions began to appear in the ladies' rooms of cafes and bars.
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The caption reads: "If you go to boxbar and ask for Angela, the bar staff will discreetly help you and advise security who will escort you safely to a secure area." The signs appeared different, as well as variations of the code: "Angela" meant a cocktail, and some venues even included such a "drink" on the menu. Therefore, other signs suggested ordering "neat," "with lime" or "with ice."
"Are you on the 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.
Neat: your bartender will escort you to your vehicle.
With ice: your bartender will call an Uber or Lyft for you.
With lime: your bartender will call the police.
We'll handle things discreetly and without a lot of fuss (we've been there, and we want you to know that you're in good hands," the poster reads.
But at the same time, when the campaign first appeared, many had obvious questions: for example, what to do if the bar staff didn't understand the code? Wouldn't a quiet plea for help be clearer? Why shouldn't a woman make a scene if her dating behavior makes her uncomfortable?
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After 4 years of the campaign, journalist Beth Robinson decided to interview employees of bars and restaurants in England about the program: is "Angela" still working, or has everyone forgotten about it long ago? As it turned out, the signs were still in the toilets in many venues. The staff was well aware of what to do if a woman utters the code word. Many establishments were even equipped with additional backdoors or special rooms where a girl could wait until an overly intrusive gentleman left the venue. Some venues didn't directly participate in the program; there were no posters, but the bartenders and servers of such venues claimed they would definitely intervene if they saw an unpleasant incident. In such cases, female employees claimed that they were following the visitors and, if they noticed that the girl was uncomfortable, asked the visitors who seemed vulnerable or worried if everything was in order.
The Angela campaign is just one tool. Recently, the program "Call Halia" was launched in Kyiv, which works on the same principle. Venues may ask to add them to the list; they'll be sent stickers they can hang on the front door and signs for the ladies' rooms with instructions for action. There are already 3 establishments in Kyiv that have joined the system. These are Flower Project on Podil, Vozdvyzhenska Street, 20, "Los Santos" Espresso Bar on Pozniaky, Teplovozna Street 3A and AmBar on Velyka Vasylkivska Street, 8A.
We contacted the owner of Los Santos, Svitlana, and this is what she told us:
"I found out about the project from Instagram; went in and read it. I know our street is dark. Scary isn't the right word, there's also a cemetery nearby. In the evening I don't walk here by myself, and if I have to get home, I always choose a taxi. No buses, because it's really scary. Based on this situation, I decided that we should connect to this program because there are really many girls walking here late at night. You never know what can happen.
There have been no cases when we were asked 'Call Halia' so far. But if they do, we have a car wash nearby, they are our partners. Before my coffee shop appeared here, there was a different one. A visitor pestered the girl, he was very persistent, so much so that she was afraid to leave the coffee shop. They called the guys from the car wash, they took her to their place and took her home by taxi. Therefore, if something like this happens, we'll take the girl to the guys, they'll take her home to safety. You can just go to our coffee shop and stay here, we can call a taxi or the police, whatever you need."
The panic button on the phone
When you return home from the metro late in the evening after work or meeting with friends, or you're sitting in the car of a young man who suddenly began to behave suspiciously, there can always be situations when you want someone to be there quickly and help. But parents are far away, and friends won't always be able to come quickly, on the first call.
In India, for example, since 2017, a mandatory panic button has been introduced on smartphones at the legislative level. When you press a combination of numbers 5 and 9 on a push-button phone or press the power button on a touchscreen three times, an emergency signal with the location of the phone is sent to the police. Naturally, both women and men can use an alarm button.
In Ukraine, the state hasn't yet provided such a privilege; a call to 102 often ends with a 5-minute wait and a cold "Sorry, our operators are busy" at the end. But during this time, anything can happen. And there's not always the time and opportunity to call the police. However, such a service is offered by security companies for a certain fee monthly or in one payment for a year in advance.
All you need is to install the application on your phone and open it at an alarming moment and press the panic button. You also need access to the Internet, let the application track your geolocation, and provide a few of your photos so that the response team can find out exactly who needs help on the spot. In the event of such an alarm, the SHERIFF security company promises to send an assistance team in 5-8 minutes, and such a subscription will cost 250 hryvnias per month or 1900 per year. For each call with a 30-minute escort, you'll have to pay another 750 hryvnias.
A similar service can also be purchased in the Safor app, and here the prices are about the same: $6.99 per month (about 190 hryvnias) or $71.99 per year (about 1940 hryvnias). At the same time, the first call for a quarter or a year is free, and the next one will cost you 200 hryvnias. The call comes from a security company, and you should be in the response zone of the patrols. If you're outside a coverage area, an alarm call in your current subscription may be rejected. For comparison, there are a lot of Safor tags in Kyiv, they literally stand one on top of the other, and there are only 9 of them in the entire Zakarpattia region.
Even in the absence of such services, girls can feel secure. It's safer in venues than on the street.
We asked Vitalii Paramonov, the owner of the Dictat Color studio, a former bartender who worked in such Kyiv establishments as Bezdelniki, Veranda on the Dnieper, Zhyzn Zamechatelnykh Liudei (The Life of Remarkable), UBK, and others, if it's safe to go on dates in venues at all, even those where there are no practices like "Angela" or "Call Halia." According to him, nightclubs and bars are a safe place for girls:
"In general, in any decent bars, clubs, nightclubs, girls are completely safe. First, because the proper crowd is arriving there. Second, in nightclubs, there are guards and staff who can always help in such situations. If they notice the girl is being harassed, if they notice some kind of violence, they'll intervene and call the police. Another thing is what happens outside the venue," he said.
Vitalii said that in his practice there were no precedents when girls in bars asked him to call a taxi or protect him from intrusive gentlemen. However, it is worth remembering that you can always ask the staff of the venue to help you if you feel unsafe.
Don't forget about safety rules
Anyone heading out on a date with a stranger should take steps to protect themselves. It's important to adhere to the precautionary rules so as not to get into an unpleasant situation. Here are some tips:
- When you go out on a date, tell your friend, or family member where you are going and what time. Provide them with as much information as possible about the person you're meeting, including their name, car number, whether they pick you up in their car or offer to give you a ride, what they look like, and what platform you communicated with.
- You can enable real-time geolocation. This function is available in the Telegram messenger, and for iPhone users, it's convenient to do this through the Locator program. The phone must be well charged.
- If you also suffer from your companion's unpleasant behavior at the venue, you can approach the staff and report that you feel uncomfortable, ask them to call a taxi, and accompany you to the exit, even if they're not connected to any of these campaigns.
- You can also agree to text or call your friend at the appointed time.
- There's a convenient feature in Telegram, deferred messages. For example, you're going to be free at 19:00, and if for some reason you can't do this, the messenger will send the message you've planned at the specified time. For example, "Call me" or "If I haven't called you back, then I'm in trouble. Find my location via geolocation and call the police." If everything went well, you can cancel sending the message at any time.
- Don't share personal information with strangers, such as your home address, and don't share a taxi home with strangers.