University Of Arizona To Study Sexual Assault Prevention Program Used To Train Bar Staff

Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 - 4:47pm
Updated: Friday, September 27, 2019 - 11:11am

Alcohol is a factor in the vast majority of sexual assaults. That’s according to a researcher from the University of Arizona, who will help evaluate a sexual assault prevention program used by bars near the state’s three universities. 

Researchers at the University of Arizona received a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to evaluate an initiative called Safer Bars. The program teaches bar staff to identify situations that could lead to a sexual assault.

Elise Lopez is the director of the university’s consortium on gender based violence.

"We know that sexual aggression is rampant in bar environments," she said. "We know that alcohol and sexual assault have a pretty tight relationship together. So it makes a lot sense to train bar staff to recognize and respond to sexual aggression so that it doesn’t escalate to a sexual assault later."

Lopez says sexual aggression is rampant in bar environments and she says it makes sense to train bar staff. She says pilot data shows Safer Bars has been effective at changing staff attitudes about intervening in those questionable situations.  

Lopez says if you see behavior that appears to be sexually aggressive, but you're unsure, keep watching for body language or other clues.

If you decide to step in, she says, ask yourself what kind of help are you prepared to give? Lopez says you could get up and say 'Hey, how's it going' or crack a joke to distract. And lastly, if you're unsure about intervening, she suggests alerting bar staff. 

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