Rape awareness week addresses issue
Speaker discusses sexual assault
By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer
Anyone who initiates sexual contact with
another person, even in a romantic relationship, without first requesting
consent is committing sexual assault, a speaker told Wood River Valley residents
Mike Domitrz, author of "May I Kiss You?",
spoke Monday at St. Charles Catholic Church in Hailey as part of Rape Awareness
The week’s events, consisting primarily of
12 presentations by Domitrz, were organized by the Blaine County Rape Awareness
Task Force. The group’s members include the Blaine County School District, the
Advocates for Survivors of Domestic Violence and the Blaine County Prosecutor’s
Task force director Leonard Harlig said
the group was formed in response to several alleged rapes in the area reported
this summer and fall.
Two of those, both alleged acquaintance
rapes, are moving through the local courts. The third, an alleged gang rape in
Hailey, has not been prosecuted due to lack of evidence.
Harlig said the task force is concerned
not only about reducing the local incidence of violent rape, but also about
creating a healthier atmosphere surrounding sexuality in normal dating
Harlig said this week’s presentations are
only the first of planned events that will eventually include regular
presentations in Blaine County Schools and self-defense classes for women and
girls. He said the events will be funded by private donations.
Domitrz’s talk Monday, attended by 26
people, was directed toward the Hispanic community and was translated into
Spanish. He spoke primarily about how parents can help their children, both male
and female, to adopt dating attitudes of respect for themselves and for their
Domitrz said he became aware of such
issues at the age of 19 when a stranger raped his older sister.
"He did that without consent, and I
started to ask myself, did I have permission before I kissed my girlfriend or
touched my girlfriend?" he said. "If I wasn’t asking, maybe I was acting like
Domitrz said he began to speak out on the
issue when he discovered that few other people were. He said it became of
particular importance to him after he became a parent himself.
Domitrz told his audience that one of the
first things parents need to do is to tell their daughters that they are special
and should expect to be treated as such, and to speak out when they are not. He
urged participants to drop any beliefs that speaking about such things will
encourage sexual activity.
Domitrz asked those attending whether they
knew anyone who had been sexually assaulted. None raised their hands. He then
asked how many knew a woman who had complained that a man had gone further with
her sexually than she would have liked. Three raised their hands.
"Then you do know someone who has been
sexually assaulted," he said.
Many incidents of rape, Domitrz said,
involve "an average person on an average date."
He said that in order to provide a good
example to his children, he and his wife always ask before kissing each other.
Domitrz stressed that parents should begin
to talk to their children on these subjects while they are still in elementary
school. How you talk to them at age 10, he said, will determine whether they
talk to you at age 15.
He suggested that parents try to form a
connection with their children, rather than preaching. For example, he said, if
your son tells you that asking before kissing just wouldn’t be cool, a good
response is, " I didn’t do that either, but, man, do I wish I had."
Domitrz also urged both parents to be
involved in such talks. When a girl hears a man talk about responsible dating
behavior, she will be more likely to expect the same attitude from other males,
At the end of his talk, Domitrz gave
copies of his book to the five families attending. One woman told him she had
learned a lot from the discussion.