This past weekend, I witnessed something wonderful. I witnessed a small group of thoughtful, committed people change the world one bar sign at a time.
On the evening of Friday, October 4, a downtown Austin bar called Minibar put a sign out front to attract customers. The sign, in an attempt to be funny, stated, “I like my beer like I like my violence: Domestic.”
One person walking by was offended by the sign, so she took a picture and sent it to a friend. The next day, her friend posted it on Facebook and the photo started to go viral. Soon, dozens of people began calling the bar to tell the manager that the sign was offensive and inappropriate.
Less than an hour after the manager received the first call, he walked into the bar, saw the sign, and fired the doorman responsible for writing the message. After taking the time to call back many people who registered complaints, the manager put his profit margin where his mouth is, and placed a new sign outside: “$1 of every domestic beer sold will go toward the NCADV (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence) in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.”
I was one of many people who made a call and re-posted the photo to Facebook, and I’m very proud to say that our collective effort made a difference! Dozens of people stood up against domestic violence. We were heard. We were respected. And because of our actions, the Austin community has been given a reminder that domestic violence will not be tolerated. Survivors of domestic violence have been given a reminder that many people are here to offer support.
As a SafePlace Court Advocate, I see firsthand the horrific consequences domestic violence has on a person and a family. To me, even a sign that makes a joke out of domestic violence belittles survivors who could be triggered simply by walking down the street on a Friday night and seeing a sign that condones the behavior of their abuser.
Though the sign never should have been posted, I am grateful that the manager of Minibar took quick action and responded to this situation with the sincerity it deserved. Too often, that is not the case.
Mostly, I am grateful for the dozens of people who dropped what they were doing on a Saturday afternoon to make a phone call, or re-post a photo on Facebook, or tell a friend. In the words of Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani woman shot by the Tailban last year, “I raise my voice not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.”
It turns out that when each of us raises our voice just a little bit, we are able to make a difference.