Class teaches bartenders, servers how to help prevent sexual assault

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FRANKLIN, Ind.– Advocates for sexual assault and domestic violence prevention hope more Indiana bars and restaurants will take advantage of free training on how to spot the signs of a potential sexual assault in the making.

The one-hour course, called “Raise the Bar,” was developed in Indiana by Anderson-based Alternatives, Inc. and the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The course is now being offered in other parts of the state as more agencies receive the training.

In Johnson County, Turning Point Domestic Violence Services is now offering the course to area businesses.

“Drug-facilitated sexual assault can take many forms,” said Turning Point Community Services Coordinator Nicole Emerson. “But by far, the number one date rape drug is alcohol, so that’s what we’re looking for.”

Trouble signs to look for include a customer who seems to be intentionally getting someone else drunk, while they stay sober.

“Just because someone appears to be nice and they’re buying drinks for everybody, there may be an ulterior motive to what they’re doing,” said James Tindell, co-owner of Triple Play BBQ.

Triple Play BBQ in Franklin and Mashcraft Brewery in Greenwood are the first two Johnson County businesses to receive the training.

Tindell says his staff members were also taught how to spot signs that a person may have been drugged, and how to intervene if a customer is getting too aggressive with a date.

“Maybe we need to step in and maybe call this lady a cab and make sure she gets home okay, or maybe tell the guy, ‘Hey back off,’” said Tindell.

Emerson said smart intervention can be crucial if a potential victim of sexual assault is intoxicated and not thinking about their own safety.

“So maybe that could be waiting for the potential perpetrator to go to the bathroom,” Emerson said. “And then approaching the girl and saying, ‘Hey, do you know this person? Are you okay?’”

At some point, Emerson says, a bar manager may have to be more direct with the intervention.

“Saying, ‘Hey, I can’t let you leave with this person, she’s intoxicated,’” she said. “The bar could be held responsible for anything that happens, and I’m going to call a cab for you.”

“If it got to the point where we had to call the police department, we could do that and they could escort them out,” said Triple Play BBQ shift manager Amber VanVleet.

“Anything you can do to make a place safer, feel safer, it’s going to be better for everybody,” said Tindell.

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