Bartenders are becoming the first line of defense against sexual assault in bars

Too often we hear of friends who go out to have fun, but never make it home. That's why people in the bar industry are working to stop a dangerous situation before it happens.

NEW ORLEANS -- Too often we hear of friends who go out to have fun, but never make it home. That's why people in the bar industry are working to stop a dangerous situation before it happens.

At this year's Tale's of the Cocktail event in New Orleans, bartenders and owners are learning to be the first line of defense against sexual assault in bars.

"It's just kind of nice to be in a room of people that are finding healthy and intelligent ways of calling out bad behavior," said Natalie Petty, a manager at Bacchanal Wine.

The non-profit 'Green Dot etc.' explained the "Three Ds" of intervention. You can be direct and confront someone. If that's uncomfortable, you can delegate another person to step in, like a friend or your boss, or create a distraction.

One example that was given was when a fraternity member saw another member taking a very intoxicated young woman up to his room, so he yelled out to the guy, 'Your car is being towed!' And that defused the situation, giving people time to help the woman.

Part of the workshop was role playing, giving attendees just seconds to decide how you would deescalate a situation that could lead to sexual assault, dating violence, harassment or stalking.

"If we, as bar owners and people in bars, don't actively work against that, we are part of the problem," said T. Cole Newton, owner of Twelve Mile Limit in Mid-City.

"It's sort of like a taboo thing,"said Cory Brim, owner of the mobile bar, Sugar Rim Bar in the Washington D.C. area. "We don't really talk about it and coming here and dealing with Green Dot, provided a way that even though we know what we need to do, I think a lot of times we just don't react. We don't know how to sort of open up the conversation."

A national brand ambassador for Auchentoshan single malt scotch says it was important for her company to be one of the sponsors of the workshop. And as a sexual assault and domestic violence survivor, she wanted to be there.

"This is definitely something that's very close to my heart, so it's important that we be a part of it, I be a part of it," said Robin Nance.

One of the most gripping stories came from the Green Dot presenter, who told her story of being raped at her first job at a fast food restaurant. The man was a fellow employee. She was only 16. A few years later, when a man was being forward with her at a bar and a college friend intervened, that's when she realized one person could change the course of your future.

People tell her the seminars have made a difference.

"That has been such a big shift to see people take ownership and excitement over these choices that I'm making," said Kristen Parks, Vice-President of Programs at Green Dot etc., Inc. "Even if they feel small, they have a big impact, and so that's been, that's one of my favorite parts of my job." 

And Green Dot says if you notice that one of your friends has had too much to drink, become a 'Velcro friend,' sticking at her side until she gets home safely.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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