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SafeBar Alliance celebrates 12 years of providing sexual assault prevention training to Lawrence bars

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The SafeBar Alliance is celebrating its 12th birthday with a new look and plans to increase business participation by nearly 30%.

Established by the Sexual Trauma & Abuse Care Center in 2010, the SafeBar Alliance program provides education and bystander intervention training to help drinking establishment staff members identify and prevent predatory behavior, harassment, and sexual assault, and to connect victim-survivors to support and resources.

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As part of the celebration, SafeBar has created a new look for its logo, training manuals and posters, and has distributed koozies and bottle openers printed with organization information for area bars to hand out to patrons.

The two-hour SafeBar training program provides a supplement beyond what is already mandated by the City of Lawrence. Beginning in 2019, Ordinance 9566 required anyone applying for a liquor license to participate in at least 30 minutes of training covering sexual harassment, de-escalation techniques, and best practices for intervening in cases of suspected sexual violence or harassment.

“Often times, we have management want us to come in and train the rest of their staff in person on this valuable information,” said Megan Engleman, communications director for the Care Center.

Since 2010, 24 establishments have participated in the program. Seven additional businesses are scheduled to begin training this year. When training is complete, bars identify a staff representative to act as a liaison with the Care Center, creating a more interactive relationship that keeps businesses involved with the program.

“We encourage establishments who are part of or interested in the SafeBar Alliance program to get trained annually as we are always learning about the impacts of sexual violence in our community and continuing to support a culture of consent,” Engleman said.

The rebranded “swag” was paid for by a grant from #BeMoreLikeClaire, which supports nonprofit organizations that work to improve quality of life for all. #BeMoreLikeClaire was established in memory of Claire VanLandingham, a 27-year-old Naval officer and dental school graduate who was killed by an ex-boyfriend in 2018.

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#BeMoreLikeClaire provided funding to the Care Center for its work in promoting a culture of consent and providing support to anyone affected by sexual trauma and abuse in Douglas, Franklin, and Jefferson Counties. Although SafeBar is a local program, the care center has provided technical support and assistance to more than two dozen other communities who would like to establish similar programs.

Executive Director Chrissy Heikkila said the Care Center was committed to making sure its programs remain free and accessible to the public.

“We are honored to be supported by #BeMoreLikeClaire and the initiatives they contribute to in our community,” she said.

Visit the SafeBar Alliance webpage for more information about the program and a list of participating businesses. Visit the Sexual Trauma & Abuse Care Center page for a comprehensive list of resources and services it provides to assault survivors, as well as educational opportunities for the public.

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Resources for survivors

If you have experienced sexual violence or trauma, please seek the help that’s right for you. There are many options available, and you don’t have to file a police report if you don’t want to.

Get 24/7 help in Lawrence: The Sexual Trauma & Abuse Care Center
  • Call 785-843-8985 to reach an advocate, 24/7. (Consider saving that number in your phone in case you or someone you know ever needs it.)
  • After an assault: What are my options? Check this page for detailed information about
    • talking to an advocate,
    • going to the hospital,
    • making a police report,
    • and/or talking to a counselor or therapist.
  • On campus? Check this page for specific resources for the University of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University, Baker University, Ottawa University and more.
Resources on KU’s campus:
  • Contact the CARE (Campus Assistance, Resource, and Education) Coordinator: Make an appointment by email, care@ku.edu, or by calling 785-864-9255.
  • Direct message KU CARE Sisters on Instagram. You don’t need to be affiliated with Greek Life to reach out and/or receive assistance.
  • Find more KU campus resources at this link.
Domestic violence situations: The Willow Domestic Violence Center
  • Reach the Willow for help 24/7 at 785-843-3333.
  • Find more resources on the Willow’s website at this link.
  • National hotline: Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), text “START” to 88788, and/or visit thehotline.org to chat and learn more, 24/7.
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