Talking to teens about dating, intimacy
To learn more
EDGERTON Mike Domitrz asks a lot of questions when he talks to teenagers.
Questions such as, why is it "uncool" to ask your date before you try to kiss him or her?
Or, is it wrong to get someone drunk at a party so you can sleep with him or her? And if so, what about the "friend" who stands by while it happens?
And why do victims of sexual assault feel too ashamed to tell anybody?
Domitrz asked all these questions and more at presentations to Edgerton middle and high school students Monday to show them there's a problem with the way society thinks about dating and intimacy.
"I've said nothing today," he told the high school students at the end of his presentation. "You've said it all. I only asked questions."
Domitrz, a Whitewater native, knows firsthand the devastating consequences of not asking questions. He used to be one of those guys who said nothing while friends took advantage of drunken partygoers, and he never asked his dates before he kissed them, he said.
Then his older sister was raped, and he realized he needed to change his ways, he said.
Today, he travels the country speaking to teens and young adults with "The Date Safe Project."
Domitrz wasn't afraid to call out students' behavior. When he asked how someone might get away with date rape, someone yelled out "roofies"—also known as "the date rape drug"—and the audience laughed.
"I'm trying to understand: Where's the humor in that?" he said. "Why is that funny?"
He asked the teens to make three changes in their lives:
-- Asking before making a move on a date and respecting the answer.
-- Not letting friends use alcohol to sexually assault others.
-- Telling those they care about that they're there for them if they have been or ever are assaulted.
Even if teens don't follow his recommendations, it's important to get them to talk about the issue, Domitrz said. And that doesn't mean rattling off statistics and saying, "Rape is bad."
"That doesn't give (teens) any skills," he said.
Austin Chapman, 18, said Domitrz's points made sense. He and fellow student Lizzie Engsberg, 17, said they believe the presentation will change some students' behavior even if others ignore the message.
Edgerton Middle School counselor Susan Running said she's already seen Domitrz's program change behavior. She uses his materials in sexual education classes.
The most rewarding part comes when a teen realizes respect and open communication heightens romance, she said.
"I'm trying to teach them respectful ways to date," she said.