Bartenders training to handle sexual assault situations
By HEATHER JORDAN
Apr. 08, 2018
SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) — Bartender and manager Brooklyn Orosco said dealing with sexual harassment on the job is an unfortunate reality.
"Oh yeah, every day," she said. "It's something you just have to be used to because it's going to happen."
Orosco, who works at Heck's Bar in Carrollton, is one of five bartenders there, four of whom are female.
"When my servers are out on the floor on busy nights, guys will be all over them," she told The Saginaw News . "As a bartender, you're getting creeped on all the time."
Orosco hopes a new training program offered by the Underground Railroad will better equip her staff to handle these situations and to intervene if they see someone else being harassed or assaulted, noting that this is a problem that affects both men and women.
"I think it would be beneficial for us to learn how to help our customers feel safer and then to learn about how I can make my staff feel safer," she said.
Shawn Schutt, sexual assault prevention educator for the Underground Railroad, developed the new "Pre-Game" training program. He's been visiting Saginaw-area bars, speaking to managers and encouraging them to participate. Heck's Bar and Pierce Road Bar & Grill were the first to sign up for the free 90-minute training, he said.
"I'm hoping to get other ones scheduled," Schutt said, noting that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. "It's completely free."
Schutt said the training will address topics including consent, the difference between flirting and sexual harassment and the effects of sleep-inducing drugs.
The Underground Railroad defines sexual assault as "sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim."
According to information on the Underground Railroad's website, "perpetrators may use physical force or emotional coercion like threats or manipulation. Sexual assault can be committed by a stranger, but is most often committed by someone the victim knows. Sexual assault can be committed by someone you are in a relationship with. Victims of sexual assault can be female or male. Sexual assault can take many different forms, but one thing remains the same: it's never the victim's fault."
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, RAINN, an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. One in six American women and one in 33 American men has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in his or her lifetime.
Schutt said bar staff and patrons alike can watch for warning signs and intervene when someone needs help.
Schutt said some topics bar staff and patrons should keep in mind are: someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot consent to sexual activity; someone who isn't drinking much but is buying someone else a lot of drinks, may be a red flag; pay attention to who people come into the bar with and who they meet there; and most people who are sexually assaulted know their attacker.
"It's just important to remember that when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, someone cannot legally consent to any sexual activity," Schutt said. "Just get their number and, the next day, when your'e both sober, talk to them. Way better strategy."
Ken Scarmeas, general manager of Pierce Road Bar & Grill in Kochville Township, said this type of training "should go hand in hand with responsible alcohol service."
"I hope the staff will learn how to recognize a problem or an issue if one may arise," he said. "Also, for the staff to learn what advice or answers to give on who to call or contact when or if someone is in trouble."
He added, "The safety of our guests and employees is our No. 1 concern and anything that can make our already safe and comfortable establishment even more safe with well informed team members is worth taking a few hours out of our day."
The Underground Railroad provides services for survivors of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault and human trafficking, among other things. As the organization's sexual assault prevention educator, Schutt offers similar training, plus information about healthy relationships and sexting, at Saginaw-area middle and high schools.
Orosco commended the Underground Railroad for its efforts.
"I just really appreciate that somebody is going out there and doing this and they're doing all this for free," she said.
Information from: The Saginaw News, http://www.mlive.com/saginaw