‘Make Your Move’ Missoula has been offering training for bartenders and servers for the past 18 months to help them spot and prevent sexual harassment of their patrons.

The second Missoula establishment, the VFW, just wrapped up training last week.

Prevention Specialist for Make Your Move with Missoula City-County Relationship Violence Services, Brenna Merrill, provided some statistics from an anonymous survey of female bar patrons taken in 2016.

“We surveyed over 300 bar-goers and 84 percent said they had experienced some kind of verbal or physical altercation in 2016,” said Merrill. “When we broke down what that altercation or harassment looks like, a large majority included sexist comments or unwanted sexual touch. 69 percent of the people we surveyed received a sexist comment that was unwanted at least once, and 65 percent received unwanted sexual touch while at an establishment serving alcohol.”

Merrill said the bartenders and servers who have received the training confirm that it has made a difference in how they react to situations where sexual harassment has occurred.
“As bartenders, they feel a lot more prepared to respond,” she said. “So rather than waiting for the patron to come to them say ‘hey, this person is being creepy’, or ‘hey, I feel uncomfortable’, or ‘I’m being followed.’ After this training, bartenders have reported that they feel much more comfortable in reaching out and asking patrons if they’re OK, or calling out behavior to someone who’s ‘being creepy’.

Receiving the training from Make Your Move is entirely voluntary for any bar or tavern who is interested, said Merrill.

The Missoula County Tavern Owners Association said there are 153 establishments licensed to serve alcohol in Missoula, including bars, taverns, restaurants, casinos and  golf courses, with another 38 outside the city limits.

The VFW and the Rhino are the only two to complete the training so far.

Any establishment wishing to receive the training may contact Brenna Merrill at 258-3838.