Rhino Bar Employees Learn to Prevent Sexual Violence - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Rhino Bar Employees Learn to Prevent Sexual Violence

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MISSOULA -

The Rhino bar in Missoula was crowded on Monday, but at a much earlier hour than usual.

Bartenders, servers and security staff met at the bar at 9 a.m. to go through a new training program to help prevent sexual violence.

The training is called "Sexual Assault Free Establishment" or "S.A.F.E."

Experts from the YWCA hosted the session to give bar employees the right tools to help keep patrons safe.

"What we wanted to do was make sure that our patrons here at the Rhinoceros feel safe," said co-owner of the Rhino, Brad Martens.

Martens said he hopes if bar employees learn to identify sexual predators, those predators will be less likely to come downtown.

"Now we'll have the knowledge and the expertise to say, hey, this is a problem here, and we're going to identify it and take care of it," he said.

Martens said the S.A.F.E. training will help his employees deal with an uncomfortable situation in a more professional manner. He said it's a win-win-- bar patrons will be more safe, and the bar business will get a boost.

"Once people know that they are safe in the downtown area, more people will come here," Martens added.

Kelly McGuire, Healthy Relationships Project Coordinator at the YWCA, said not all sexual assaults are happening in bars or even after people leave bars, but alcohol is a contributing factor in some cases.

"We know that if you're a sexual predator, looking for vulnerable people to take advantage of, a bar is a great place to go," McGuire said.

Employees learned how to be on the lookout for predators trying to separate those vulnerable people from their friends, or use alcohol to make a person more vulnerable.

"And be able to identify the strategies that predators are using."

McGuire said the training also gives bar staff a better understanding of how to be "positive bystanders" and safely step in when they see predatory behavior.

"We're hoping that this is going to be as normal as the over-serving classes that bartenders currently have to take," McGuire said.

McGuire said programs similar to S.A.F.E. have been successful in Boston, Arizona and North Carolina, and she hopes today's training expands into more bars across Missoula.

S.A.F.E. training is part of the "Make Your Move Missoula" campaign to engage men and women to help prevent sexual violence in Missoula.

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