In 1989 Mike Domitrz got the news of his sister's rape. For two years, he struggled to deal with the pain, rage and sadness that followed. As Domitrz realized the enormous impact this tragedy had on his family and friends, he began to see the need in society for a healthier dating approach and better understanding of how "consent" is obtained in intimacy. He created educational products and a classroom curriculum, including the "Can I Kiss You?" seminar where he presents keys to effective bystander intervention to eliminate potential sexual assaults. Domitrz's presentations also assess the volatile situations that can be created when alcohol is combined with dating situations and sexual activity.
In conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the founder of The Date Safe Project and award-winning author, publisher, educator, ally and expert presented three sessions of his "Can I Kiss You?" seminar at the Hill Base Theater to military men and women. The information Domitrz has developed is very well suited for singles, those in a committed relationship, and married individuals as well. According to The Date Safe Project website, one of the best aspects of the "Can I Kiss You?" program is Mike Domitrz's approach to: "Asking First," "Opening a Door," and "Being a Friend" no matter what kind of a relationship you are in or are not in.
Domitrz's personal engagement with his audience allowed for a candid, in-depth, interactive conversation about what is often labeled a "silent" issue. Domitrz made it clear that in the dating world and even long-term relationships, body-language can often be miscommunicated and extremely unreliable.
Domitrz gave an engaging presentation on April 12 to a mixed audience of military and interested Team Hill personnel, creating an interactive, educational, encouraging, thought-provoking and personal sharing of ideas and experiences. He provided realistic tools and skills to empower audience members with better decision-making skills on the issue of consent, being a better Wingman through bystander intervention, and using specific and effective language to effectively communicate support to survivors of sexual assault.
Domitrz used role-playing with audience members and his own portrayal of interesting characters to present a wide array of dating situations and asked Airmen tough thought-provoking questions regarding dating and relationships such as: "Most of you would say you're a good person. How many of you would get involved if you saw someone taking advantage of another person? If you watch this happen and you know it's wrong, but do nothing. Why? If it was someone you cared about, would you want a stranger to help them?"
"Getting consent first is the most logical, caring and romantic choice a person can make," said Domitrz. He provided an example of a married couple whose husband had attended one of his seminars. He went home and asked his wife specifically what she wanted to do that night after the kids were in bed. He loved it! Later he asked his wife why they hadn't done that at any point during their 20-year marriage. Her reply was, "You never asked." He came back and told Domitrz about it the next day and thanked him for the opportunity to improve his communication.
Audience members were asked to consider if they had ever made statements to their children, spouses, families or friends such as, "If anyone ever touches you, I will kill them!" As the audience conveyed widespread agreement, Domitrz gave compelling evidence as to why, at that moment, they had slammed the door of communication shut for that person to ever approach them following a sexual assault. The message they actually were receiving was that the person speaking to them was saying "I can't handle this." He challenged each member of the audience to contact those individuals before the day's end and he provided them the words to communicate their true intention and build a trusting and nurturing relationship, "I know I once told you if anybody hurt you I'd kill them ... What I should have said was, 'It would take an enormous amount of courage and strength for you to come to me about that and I want you to know I would do anything I could to help.'ââ"
Domitrz travels across the country actively pursuing opportunities to educate society and delivering his engaging and thought-provoking curriculum. He conducts interactive briefings at military installations, public school assemblies and colleges and universities. He has created a program for parents, which includes DVDs and the book "HELP! My Teen Is Dating: Real Solutions to Tough Conversations." His free e-book and audio-book, "Voices of Courage," contains the powerful journeys of twelve survivors of sexual assault. All of these resources and more information are available at http://www.datesafeproject.org.
Janaee Stone is the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) at Hill AFB and can be contacted at 801-777-1985 or 801-777-1964 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.