Safe Bars training available in Summit County

Free training to prevent sexual assault in bars, restaurants and other businesses, such as lodging, is now available in Summit County.

Safe Bars, a national training program, became locally available to businesses last year. The free two-hour training helps employees understand and recognize harassment and equips them with the skills to respond safely and appropriately.

Free training to prevent sexual assault in bars is available here in Summit County. (Photo courtesy of Summit Medical Center)

“We hope to educate and empower staff, as they are in a great position to prevent sexual assault,” said Mackenzie Russo, violence prevention project coordinator at St. Anthony Summit Hospital.



Unfortunately, incidents of assault are quite high in Summit County.

“The Sexual Assault Response Team is usually very busy,” she said. “A big part of that is that Summit County has a party culture.”



While drinking alcohol obviously does not cause sexual assault, statistics show that alcohol plays a role in half of reported incidents. It is the most common substance used to facilitate sexual assault. About 50% of people who commit sexual assaults are under the influence of alcohol at the time, and sexual assaulters actively use bars to select, isolate, and sometimes incapacitate their targets. This fact alone puts bars and restaurants in a unique position to help prevent victimization – and even save lives.

We want to empower people to get help and stay safe.  (Photo courtesy of Summit Medical Center)
We want to empower people to get help and stay safe. (Photo courtesy of Summit Medical Center)

Safe Bars training allows employees of restaurants, bars, lodging establishments and other places that serve alcohol to intervene, without escalating the situation. They learn to identify warning signs, including nonverbal cues, and interrupt threatening behavior with one of the three Ds: direct help, distraction, or delegation (usually to managers or bartenders). The training also covers local resources that are available, such as Summit Advocates for Victims of Assault, Summit Hospital Forensic Nurse Examiners, and the Police Department.

The training also includes awareness of key phrases, such as “Angela” and “angel shot”. When customers ask something about Angela (like if she’s working) or order an angel photo, it’s a sign that they need help but can’t directly request an intervention.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean ‘call the cops,’ but it could be a signal to separate the party or remove the person from the situation,” Russo said.

Nearly one in five women is raped in her lifetime. Russo, who has worked in the restaurant industry for 14 years, has witnessed numerous violations.

“I’ve worked in restaurants, bars and fine dining, and I’ve seen sexual assault happen in every situation. It can be a scary comment or as serious as touching or harassment. If you minimize it, it continues,” she said, adding that data shows that 66 percent of women and 44 percent of men have experienced sexual harassment while working in restaurants. of Safe Bars is to reduce sexual assault Just because Summit has this party culture doesn’t mean it has to be unsafe.

Approach any member of staff and
Approach any staff member and “ask for Angela” or order an “Angle Shot” for assistance. (Photo courtesy of Summit Medical Center)

Safe Bar training is available in Summit County through a grant from St. Anthony Summit Hospital. So far, 21 establishments have been formed, including Outer Range, Silverthorne Pavilion, The Pad and Dos Locos.

According to research, bartenders, staff and patrons are key to preventing sexual violence through proper training and awareness, according to http://www.safebars.orgbased in Washington D.C.

“It’s best to understand your community and make it safer at all levels, so we’d like to see more restaurants, bars and hospitality venues undergoing Safe Bars training,” Russo said, “whether that’s through staff asking their managers for training or owners who sign up.We want to empower people to know what to look for and how to act to prevent sexual assault.

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