SAC event speaks on sexual assault and safe dating practices

Mike Domitrz got the call 24 years ago. His mother told him his older sister had been raped. That call launched him into a career of speaking about sexual assault.

“After my sister’s rape, I heard a speaker [on sexual assault] and I thought ‘I can do something about this. I can speak out,’” he said.

Since then, he’s been traveling to colleges, high schools and middle schools throughout the country each year with the Date Safe Project, a group that according to their website, “provides positive how-to skills and helpful insights for addressing verbal consent (asking first), respecting of boundaries, sexual decision-making, bystander intervention, and supporting survivors (opening the door for family and friends).”

Domitrz gives his talk called “Can I Kiss You?” to about 90 venues each year. On Monday night, he gave his interactive presentation to Wichita State students in the Campus Activities Center Theater. Rather than using a PowerPoint or lecture, he engaged the audience through humor and participation.

Domitrz created a hypothetical scenario in which a young, drunken woman was in danger of being sexually assaulted.

Domitrz said one of the reasons people don’t intervene when they see a situation like this is the bystander effect, or not acting due to the presence of others we believe will help first. Another reason is gender bias, or the belief that when a woman gets drunk, she’s choosing to put herself at risk.

Domitrz suggested imagining that the victim is not a stranger, but a loved one.

“You’ve got to somehow believe this impacts her,” Domitrz said. “That it’s personal. When it’s personal, our likelihood of taking action soars.”

Another topic in Domitrz’s talk was opening the door for victims of sexual assault to come forward. Often victims are afraid to come forward due to rape culture, which means blaming the victim.

He asked the audience to call three loved ones by 11 p.m. Monday night to let their loved one know they can talk to them in the case of past or possible future sexual assault.

“You already know survivors,” Domitrz said. “It’s just a matter of if they’ve told you or not.”

Domitrz also discussed dating practices, such as asking for permission before going in for a kiss. Volunteers from the audience were asked to come on stage and enact the hypothetical scenario of asking for a kiss without “ruining the moment.”

“It was really educational,” Junior Chris Wiebe said. “I’ve been to many events like these, but this has been by far the best.”

Victims of sexual assault can contact the Wichita Sexual Assault Center at (316) 263-0185. The Counseling and Testing Center is also available to provide assistance.

The Student Activities Council sponsored Domitrz’s appearance.