Sexual violence happens in private businesses, private residences, and public spaces. We are striving to create a community where sexual violence is not tolerated in any environment. Private business owners who maintain a liquor license can help make this happen by setting clear expectations for their patrons and empowering their staff to a model positive behavior for our community. Private businesses have the ability to prevent sexual violence from happening at their establishments as well as after their patrons leave their business.
Since 2013, UNC Student Wellness has partnered with the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, the Carolina Women’s Center, and the Chapel Hill Police Department to implement Raise the Bar, a training that provides bar staff with the tools to recognize warning signs of drug facilitated sexual assault and strategies to intervene when they see them. Raise the Bar discusses bystander intervention strategies specifically for bar staff.
Alcohol is the most common substance used in drug facilitated sexual assault (DFSA), making bar staff particularly crucial allies in preventing sexual violence. Since we cannot identify perpetrators of DFSA by the way they look, we have to pay attention to their behavior. A perpetrator may take advantage when someone chooses to use drugs or alcohol, or they may intentionally give someone drugs or alcohol. For example, a potential perpetrator may pay a lot of attention to someone who is intoxicated, continue to buy drinks for that person, or try to isolate them away from their friends. They may also test boundaries, and ignore when someone says or acts like they are not interested. Bar staff may witness any of these behaviors and have the power to intervene before a potential perpetrator can harm someone.
So, what is a friend, bartender, bouncer, or date to do?
- Serve Responsibly – Preventing over-intoxication by not over-serving is one way to reduce the vulnerability of customers to perpetrators – and, it’s the law.
- Check In with a potential victim – Ask them if they are okay, if they need to find their friends, or need someone new to talk to.
- Keep Patrons’ Behavior in Check – Let someone know that their behavior is not okay.
- Change the environment – Changing the lights, music, seating, or other structural aspects of a bar, restaurant, or nightclub can make sure that all areas of the establishment are visible to staff.
Managers, bartenders, and staff who are interested in learning more can attend Raise the Bar as part of the Chapel Hill Police Department & North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement Division’s bimonthly B.A.R.S. (Be A Responsible Server) training. These trainings are FREE and open to the public. Remaining training dates this fall include Monday, October 19, 2015, and Monday, December 14, 2015. All trainings take place from 7 to 9 pm at 171 E. Franklin Street (Court House/Post Office).
For more information, or to request a training specifically for your establishment, check out our website at studentwellness.unc.edu/raisethebar.
Kelli Raker is the Coordinator for Violence Prevention Programs at UNC-Chapel Hill. Among other programs, she coordinates One Act, a peer education program on preventing interpersonal violence, and Raise the Bar, an outreach and education program to local bars on preventing alcohol and drug facilitated sexual assault.