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These Code Words Can Keep You Safe in Arlington Bars

"Ask for Angela" and bar staff will help you get out of unsafe situations.

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A new initiative in Arlington aims to keep bar patrons safe from sexual violence. The Arlington County and City of Falls Church Victim/Witness Program has collaborated with the Arlington Police Department on “Ask for Angela,” a campaign centered on code words.

If your date starts to get aggressive, you can simply ask the bartender, “Is Angela here tonight?” and they’ll pull you aside to make sure you feel safe.

The campaign began more than two years ago in the UK. Hayley Child, a sexual-violence strategy coordinator in Lincolnshire, came up with the idea, and the council distributed posters outlining the strategy to local bars and clubs.

It’s since spread throughout the UK, and now the Washington area: Several Arlington bars, including Nam-Viet, Bar Bao, Freddie’s Beach Bar, and Rhodeside Grill, are undergoing training to respond to requests for “Angela” by safely removing the customer from the situation and calling the police if necessary.

DC has a similar program: Safe Bars has been training staff at local pubs to recognize potentially dangerous situations when they see them.