Airmen from the 56th Security Forces Squadron, Club Five Six staff and the 56th Fighter Wing Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office recently conducted a joint bystander intervention exercise Aug. 14 at Club Five Six.
The goal of the exercise was to reinforce and train Club Five Six bartenders in bystander intervention skills and observe the responses and procedures of security forces during the joint sexual assault scenario.
“We are trying to facilitate more unit cohesion,” said Staff Sgt. Steve Albavera, 56th SFS evaluator.
“With sexual assault prevention being a big topic in the Air Force right now, we want to be proactive and do the training before the problem escalates. It happens too many times and many people don’t acknowledge it. We want to put the word out there that bartenders, security forces and the SAPRO are being trained to handle these situations.”
Three role players, selected from different units across Luke Air Force Base, acted out a scenario with one male and two females at a bar. One of the females is being harassed by the male. The bartenders were unaware of the exercise. The goal was for the bartenders to become aware the male was harassing the female and call security forces.
“The goal of the exercise was to enhance sensitivity toward victims of harassment and assault,” said Joice Jones, SAPRO coordinator.
After some time, the bartender picked up on the harassment and called security forces. Security forces Airmen arrived and began questioning suspects and witnesses at the scene. The simulated victim was later taken to another section of the room where counselors from the SAPR office counseled her and informed her of reporting options.
Bartenders received bystander intervention training from the SAPR office prior to security forces arriving. Alyce White, Club Five Six bartender, said she welcomes the training.
“I’m looking forward to learning something new,” White said. “I haven’t seen anyone sexually harassed but you never know. Everybody seems to be pretty well mannered. I’ve never even had to tell someone they have had too much to drink.”
Alcohol is often involved in cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Training bartenders to recognize signs of sexual harassment and sexual assault and informing the community are important in the prevention of similar cases.
“More than 80 percent of sexual assault allegations come out of a date rape drug scenario with alcohol being the number one date rape drug,” Jones said. “The line between consent and nonconsent when alcohol is used can become blurred, just like one’s ability to drive. In an environment where alcohol is served, there is a role for bartenders to keep an eye out for the dynamics of a person under the influence of alcohol to prevent negative outcomes.”
The training is part of a larger effort in Arizona to increase awareness and participation in bystander intervention of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
The Arizona Department of Health Services, through the Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Program has an “Arizona Bar Bystander Project,” a program to train targeted bar staff and bar patrons in bystander intervention, Jones said. This joint training exercise is in conjunction with the state’s efforts to engage the same type of prevention strategies here at Luke.