Taking an unorthodox method to educate the public on the role of alcohol in sexual assaults, Advocates Against Battering and Abuse has invited the community to raise a pint of ale -- Advocates Ale.
"The important part of alcohol is that it doesn't cause (rape) but that it uninhibits the people capable of performing that behavior," said Advocates case manager Allison Plean.
In 2003, 30 sexual assaults were reported to Advocates. Sixty were reported in 2002.
According to the Advocates training manual, 75 percent of men and 50 percent of women involved in sexual assault had been drinking at the time.
"We know that most nonstranger rapes involve alcohol," Advocates Executive Director Diane Moore said. "There's also this 'victim blaming' (element) with those assaults. People say, 'She shouldn't have been drinking so much.'"
Women need to be thoughtful about their choices, she said, but they are not to blame for a perpetrator's violent behavior.
Attendees of Thursday's event at Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill can buy a pint glass that features the face of SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month) reading, "No still means no." During May, Mahogany Ridge will be brewing Advocates Ale, which will be sold to holders of the SAAM glass for $2 a pint.
With music by the Brewglass Boys, the evening promises to be a fun, if unconventional, way to raise awareness.
"In this community, we've been able to discuss domestic violence, but sexual violence is still hard for us to talk about," Moore said.
The idea for raising awareness of alcohol's role in sexual assaults came from Plean. She worked at a brewery in Boulder where they raised money for the fire department with a similar pint glass and special brew event.
The idea was an easy sell for Mahogany Ridge owners. Advocates approached general manager Torey MacDermid a month ago with the idea.
"We said 'yes' partly because we do have such a late-night business and this is part of what we do," MacDermid said. "We've prided ourselves in the beginning that women tend to feel safe here.
"But in a town where drinking is so prevalent -- a drinking town with a skiing problem -- it's an important issue and something that deserves attention."
As a young woman who likes to go out and socialize, it's an issue of which MacDermid is very aware.
A high percentage of the sexual assaults that happen in Routt County involve women from age 15 to their mid-20s, Moore said. "It's a very vulnerable time. Most of the victims and defendants are young adults because they are the ones who go out, socialize and drink."
MacDermid sees Thursday night as a way to raise awareness "without bringing people down," she said. "We want people to drink and have a good time in a way that they wake up the next morning and what they remember is having a good time."
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