SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Service member and civilians at Naval Base San Diego (NBSD) participated in an open discussion about sexual assault prevention, bystander intervention, survivor support, healthy dating, intimacy and marriage, July 9-10.
The Date Safe Project's "Can I Kiss You?" engaged the audience in tough topics ranging from why sexual assault and rape occurs to addressing intimacy and communication in marriage. Mike Domitrz, founder of The Date Safe Project, started his organization as a way to handle his anger and make a difference after his sister was raped in 1989. "I started speaking out in 1990, did it full time though college and then came back to this full time in 2002 and since then, I've been travelling the world and spreading these lessons and our mission."
Through the entire session, Sailors were able to dissect situations from the perpetrator, victim, and bystander viewpoints, asking questions and being given new tools for sexual assault situations discussed numerous times in Powerpoint or standard Navy training.
"It was very innovative training, something totally different than we are use to. There was a lot of interactive participation, which I think draws Sailors in because it isn't the normal dry training... death by Powerpoint or talking," said Logistics Chief Petty Officer Shavonne Banks, Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center San Diego. "I'll take this back to my Sailors and actually will take this home as well."
Domitrz shared a four-step program in preventing sexual assault. The first step is to identify the situation in order to prevent it and the second step is to connect to the scene. "You need to imagine the victim as a loved one so it becomes your problem," stated Domitrz. The next steps are geared towards bystanders uniting and actively intervening with the last step of remaining calm in the situation.
Another major topic discussed was how to support victims after the incident. "You don't want to say, 'I'm sorry,' it comes off as pity. You don't want to say, 'Who did it?' It sounds like you are focused on the wrong person. Instead you want to look this person you care about deeply in the eyes and simply say, 'Thank you so much for sharing. Clearly you are strong, you are courageous. What can I do to help?,'" shared Domitrz.
The namesake of the presentation, "Can I Kiss You?" addressed why people are afraid of asking the simple question in an intimate situation. The discussion focused on the awkward factor and also the fear of rejection when asking the question. Domitrz offered alternative views of why asking to kiss someone is a good thing, what situations it can prevent and also how to answer a "no" response. "We need "how to" skills on how to ask for things," said Domitrz.
The training also goes beyond the typical dating or bar scene, it also translates to marriages. "It is information that enlightened me not only for work, but in my own marriage. Things I do that it made me aware of...how I approach my wife and it makes me want to improve my communication with her," says Steelworker 2nd Class Terry Williams, Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 303.
At the end of the training, audience members received blue bracelets with the words, "Ask First, Respect the Answer." Sailors took time to walk up to Domitrz to share what they liked about the training and thank him for the new perspectives. "When I receive information like this, I like to apply it. This is something that should be in every sexual assault training," commented Williams.
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