"In the summer of 2020, several St. Louis women took to social media to share serious allegations about safety at restaurants, bars and a tattoo parlor in the city’s Grove neighborhood. Their posts about personal experiences of sexual assault and harassment drew attention to a problem that persists across the food and beverage service industry.
Sam Hunerlach is the founder of St. Louis Against Sexual Assault, which offers free training around sexual violence prevention to hospitality workers. She told St. Louis on the Air that what happened in 2020 aligned with what she has seen and experienced herself in the nearly 20 years she has worked in the restaurant and service industry.
'I think all of us who have gone out to have a drink have witnessed sexual harassment,' Hunerlach said. 'And all of us [who] have worked in bars and restaurants have also witnessed it, but intervening is difficult.'
Hunerlach said the group’s training program empowers workers by building competence. “[G]iving people steps really, really helps. … They can go in, they know what to say, they can bring someone with them. And they can either defuse the situation or redirect it, or remove that person from the establishment. So it's just about giving them confidence.”