Bars and taverns in western Montana now have a new resource to help keep customers feeling safe and welcome with a new Sexual Violence Prevention Digital Toolkit.

Outreach Coordinator for Missoula City-County Relationship Violence Services, Brenna Merrill,  said the organization 'Make Your Move' has provided another way to help prevent sexual violence in bars.

"We were funded last year through 'Ralliance' and the NFL to create a bartender/bystander intervention training workshop," Merrill said. "In April, we started training bars here in Missoula, including the Rhino, on how bartenders can better intervene when they see instances of sexual assault or sexual harassment in their own establishment. Then, we took the curriculum we created and made it accessible, so that other agencies throughout Montana and the whole country are able to provide the same program to their community."

Merrill said the Rhino has led the way in the Make Your Move project in Missoula.

"Right now, the Rhino is the only establishment to take the training, but we are expecting three more in the upcoming month or so," she said. "For a lot of bars, their employees are students, so they'll have training once school gets back in session."

Merrill said the bartenders are the key to helping to keep an establishment safe for patrons.

"Bartenders are the eyes and the ears of the establishment, and they have a lot of power to make their environment 'cool'," she said. "So, we ask bartenders to check in on patrons and call out inappropriate behavior. It's not like being a cop, that you can get the patron in a lot of trouble, but more like a friend, in that I just won't serve you anymore if you keep behaving like that."

Merrill said bars and taverns with this training will come across as much more desirable for patrons to visit, since it provides a much safer, more welcoming atmosphere.

"That's not just for college-age women," she said. "I think everyone would hopefully prefer a bar where bartenders are making sure that you feel safe."

To find out more about the digital toolkit provided by 'Make Your Move', click here. 

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