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Greater Victoria hospitality businesses offered free training on sexual violence prevention

Three-hour session gives industry tools to prevent, respond to sexual violence
Chuck’s Burger Bar closed its doors earlier this year after numerous allegations of sexual assault arose against one of its employees. Good Night Out Vancouver is now offering sexual violence prevention training free to Victoria’s hospitality industry. (Black Press Media file photo)

A B.C. non-profit is offering to train Victoria hospitality businesses on how to prevent and respond to sexual violence, for free.

Good Night Out Vancouver (GNOV) works with hospitality, arts and nightlife sectors across the province to prevent sexual harassment and assault. Its Safer Spaces program is a three-hour session that teaches businesses how to keep patrons safe by learning the root causes of harm and how to intervene.

“The GNOV Safer Spaces program addresses vulnerabilities at the intersection of intoxication and consent,” GNOV co-founder and education director Stacey Forrester said in a release.

The program also deals with community responsibility and bystander apathy, “related to the spectrum of sexual violence in restaurants, bars, festivals and other places where people gather socially,” she added.

Greater Victoria has seen a flurry of sexual assault allegations arise against public-facing people over the last year, including a tattoo artist, multiple restaurant employees and numerous real estate agents.

READ ALSO: Fourth Greater Victoria real estate agent fired over allegations of sexual assault

READ ALSO: Victoria restaurant fires employee accused of sexual assault, commits to education

On May 13, Victoria council passed a motion to recommit to preventing sexualized violence and building a culture of consent in the hospitality industry. Couns. Sarah Potts and Jeremy Loveday were appointed to a working group along with representatives from the industry to address the issue. Council is considering mandating sexual violence workplace training as a condition of liquor or business licensing.

Elijah Zimmerman of the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre said prevention training is key in building a culture of consent.

“Alongside our mission of healing from the impacts of sexual assault is the critical work of building a future free from gender-based violence,” he said.

GNOV has trained more than 3,000 people in bystander intervention and violence prevention. Victoria businesses can sign up for the Safer Spaces program at Training runs from July 5 to April 2022.

READ ALSO: Explainer: What is rape culture and what does it look like in Greater Victoria?

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