SAVANNAH, GA (October 14, 2014): The Rape Crisis Center of Savannah (RCCSAV) has partnered with Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department and several area bars in an effort to reduce occurrences of sexual assault involving excessive alcohol consumption.

“Bar Bystander” is a national RCC campaign run in partnership with area law enforcement agencies and bars. With RCCSAV’s designated Bar Outreach curriculum, employees of alcohol-serving businesses are trained to identify signs of risky customer-to-customer interactions involving large amounts of alcohol. Employees also are trained to serve as a means of reducing or eliminating dangerous situations through appropriate modes of intervention. Participating bars take a pledge to enact learned strategies as necessary. Patrons will be able to identify participating businesses by RCCSAV decals displayed near entrances.

Literature educating customers on protecting themselves will be posted throughout participating bars. One method places QR barcodes on posters, coasters and napkins. Scanning the barcodes with smartphones will direct users to the RCCSAV webpage for instructions on what to do if intoxicated and facing the threat of sexual assault, how to report prior attacks and prevention tips.

Comparing RCCSAV’s sexual assault data to SCMPD’s, showed more than 50% of reported sexual assaults listed alcohol as a contributing factor. This prompted RCCSAV Executive Director Kesha Gibson-Carter to introduce Bar Bystander locally.

“It’s important for us to be able to share data with local law enforcement,” said Gibson-Carter. “This allows us to effectively strategize and implement tools like Bar Bystander in our community. If we can use knowledge and resources to educate our business community and citizens — and keep someone safe, we know our efforts aren’t in vain.”

RCCSAV will train local bar employees with the Bar Outreach Project curriculum created by Our VOICE, an Ashville, NC based victim advocacy group. This curriculum is used for similar campaigns in Iowa, Kansas, and Florida.

To date, businesses participating in Bar Bystander include: Bar Food, Coco’s Martini, Johnnie Ganem Package Shop and Wet Willies. The required 90-minute staff training will begin in November.

Bars interested in taking the “Safe Bar Against Sexual Violence” pledge can sign up for training by calling (912) 233-3000.