Whitewater High School alumnus educates juniors and seniors on safe dating practices

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Andrea Anderson
Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WHITEWATER--Teenagers don't ask permission before they kiss their dates because they fear rejection and awkwardness, Whitewater High School juniors and seniors said at an assembly Wednesday morning.

Mike Domitrz disagrees.

The reason people don't ask permission is because they haven't been taught, Domitrz said.

The upperclassmen were participating in "Can I Kiss You," a safe dating program presented by Domitrz, a 1988 Whitewater High School graduate.

Keely Fiedler, a sophomore and president of Students Against Destructive Decisions, worked with school staff and organization members to bring Domitrz to the high school. She said she is working on having him give a presentation every two years.

“His message is something that needs to be known by everybody, and I'm glad he got to share it here today,” Fiedler said.

Domitrz founded the business The Date Safe Project after his sister was raped in 1989. His goal is to reduce the number of people affected by rape by speaking to people of all ages about how to maintain respectful and meaningful relationships.

Domitrz stressed three skills:

-- How to ask permission.

-- How to intervene when necessary.

-- How to support close family and friends who are survivors of traumatic experiences.

Domitrz said asking the person you're dating for permission to do something physical is a priority.

"Every human being deserves a choice before you do something with their body sexually or intimately," Domitrz told the high school students.

He said asking an easy question is a good way to lead into a more personal one and is worth the anxiety.

“To verbally hear that person wants to kiss you makes you feel great," Domitrz said.

The Whitewater native also stressed the importance of stepping in before a situation gets out of hand.

He had students visualize two people at a party, one significantly more intoxicated than the other, who tries to take advantage of the situation. Students said this happens frequently.

Domitrz asked the students why people don't step in.

Students said they would fear confrontation, wouldn't want to prevent a friend from having casual sex and would feel compelled to mind their own business.

Domitrz dug deeper, asking students if it's scarier when "sexual assault" is replaced with the word "rape."

They agreed rape is scarier.

"We don't have the right to be mad at the rapists if we don't do anything to stop them," Domitrz said.

He suggested students use the existing “backup culture,” confront the person in question and make it clear they will be taking their friend home. 

Domitrz encouraged the students to support friends and family by listening to them and offering help. He encouraged parents to shift their perspectives.

“Here's a great hint that a teenager can say to their parents,” Domitrz said. “Say, 'Mom or Dad, instead of killing the person whoever hurt me, could you just be there for me?' That really opens the door for teens … Parents open the door and say, 'I'm going to be there for you.' Support your child.”

Doug Parker, Whitewater High School principal, said talking to students about relationships sends a positive message.

“Our job as educators is not just to teach the ABCs and math and the academic piece but also the social-emotional relationship piece,” Parker said. “I think it was a great message.”

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