Sexual assault intervention training launches in Nashville bars - WSMV News 4

Sexual assault intervention training launches in Nashville bars

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These coasters can test for the two most common date rape drugs. (WSMV) These coasters can test for the two most common date rape drugs. (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Statistics show alcohol is involved in 70 percent of all sexual assaults, a figure Anna Brown of Nashville knows all too well.

Two years ago, Brown said she was raped by two different people she thought she could trust.

"That plays a lot in the denial," she explained. "It's like, 'Well, they wouldn't do this to me.' It's hard to believe at first. Sort of just shock, and even denial, not wanting to believe it is what it is."

She said alcohol was involved in both assaults.

"Neither time was I drugged," Brown said. "A lot of times we assume that an alcohol-assisted rape has some kind of rape drug involved, but that's not always the case. A lot of times alcohol itself is just the tool used to lower a person's inhibitions and also make them less aware of their surroundings.

"Waking up the next day, I just tried to move on,” she added.

Brown said volunteering as a trainer with the Sexual Assault Center's Safe Bar program, which officially launched Wednesday, has given her a newfound purpose.

"Raising awareness is a huge part of the battle," Brown added. "I think that's a big part of Safe Bar, telling people in our community that this happens. We need to start talking about it. We can't be silent anymore. And let's talk about ways that we can protect each other and really care for each other."

The program teaches staff members at bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, how to identify potentially dangerous situations and intervene.

"Sometimes it's as little as asking a question across the bar, 'Hey do you feel alright? Are you feeling OK tonight? Are you comfortable right now?' Being that direct," Brown said.

"We have a responsibility to our patrons to ensure that when they go out, they can have a great time," said Chad Atat, director of operations at Bar Louie in the Gulch.

"Our first option, our first choice is to actually prevent sexual assault from ever happening," Atat said. "They're (servers, bartenders) our front line and the people who can see it and get the right people involved to stop it right up front."

The popular Nashville bar is the first to sign up for the program, which includes drug detection coasters featuring Drink Safe Technology -- test strips that detect the two most common date rape drugs.

Lance Norris manufacturers the special coasters, cards and wristbands.

"Now you have ability to test your drink," Norris explained via Skype. "Students can put this on when they go out, and then the test strips are right there on the wristband itself."

Five-hundred drug detection coasters retail for $1.40 each, or as little as 80 cents each for 5,000 coasters.

Norris said the cost can be covered by sponsors or advertisers, in exchange for a logo on the product.

If your drink tests positive, Norris said to save whatever drink you have left and send it to a forensic toxicology laboratory, such as ExperTox, for an analysis.

The results may be used as evidence in court.

Click here or more information on the coasters.

For more information on the Safe Bar program, click here or email Sharon Travis at stravis@sacenter.org.

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