Milwaukee, WI (PRWEB) January 12, 2004
Sexual Assault & Athletes -- All He Had to Do Was Ask - Where Is The Outrage?
A statement last week by the spokesman of a County attorneyÂs office in Phoenix is one of the most devastating setbacks to all sexual assault education and awareness efforts across this country. When charges are not pressed against a person, we usually hear the district attorneyÂs office say, "We did not find enough evidence to proceed with criminal charges." In this case, the County AttorneyÂs office chose not to make that statement. Instead, the office was quoted as saying, ". . . he could not have known the 22-year-old woman who accused him did not consent." When did ignorance of the law free you of guilt?
Since this allegation involved a high profile athlete, much of the national media reported this story. By hearing this one sentence from a prosecution office, men and women across the country could be incorrectly lead to believe: if you donÂt know you are sexually assaulting someone, you wonÂt be charged with a crime.
Mike Domitrz, renowned national expert on sexual assault awareness states, "The exposure resulting from recent high profile athletes being accused of sexual assault is distorting our country's view of sexual assault and rape. Is it the average athlete's fault? No. Sexual assault is occurring between people of all lifestyles and backgrounds. Our society simply focuses on the high profile athlete because they are considered 'newsworthy'. The distortion of the issue occurs when people jump to conclusions from statements that result from these news stories."
If no criminal charges are pressed in a sexual assault allegation, we often hear people say, "She must have made it up". The truth is that charges not being pressed can simply mean the prosecutor didn't think he/she could win the case (regardless of guilt). False reports of sexual assaults are extremely rare. A close look reveals that only 10% - 16% of sexual assaults are ever reported. Of that 10% - 16%, less than 5% are considered false reports. Take the highest of those numbers and you get 5% of 16% -- a total of less than 1% of all sexual assaults.
Then why is there an image that sexual assaults are falsely reported more often than they are? "If you believe that a crime doesn't happen very often, you feel safer ," explains Domitrz. Each day, sexual assaults frequently happen in this country and across the world. Sexual assault is sexual contact "without consent" or that is "unwilling" (in most states, one of these definitions is accurate). The key word is consent. According to Domitrz, "As simple as this words seems, people rarely want to talk openly about consent. Why? People take it for granted. They think they can 'read other people's minds' or know exactly what certain 'body language' means. The reality is that while most people want to believe they 'know' when they have consent, they are not 100% sure."
"Except for physical assaults where the assailant is purposely intending to rape the victim, a simple solution can solve many potential misunderstandings before intimacy ever begins. Get consent. The person being the aggressor by beginning the sexual contact should ask for consent before engaging in the sexual contact," stresses Domitrz. Traveling the country speaking in schools, communities, and on college campuses, he challenges students, parents, educators, and people of all ages to examine their own views on consent, dating behaviors and sexual assault. He clearly knows and shares that the only absolute way you can have consent to do anything in life is to ask. When you are a teenager and you want to borrow your parentÂs car, what do you do? You ask. If you want to borrow twenty dollars from a friend, what do you do? You ask.
A car or money is replaceable. A human being is not. The violation of sexual assault is the most disturbing of all crimes in our society. Even so, some would say, "Asking would ruin the moment." If asking ruins the moment, you didnÂt have much of a "moment" to begin with. Others would say, "I canÂt talk to someone about what we are going to do in bed." Then, how can you say you are ready to engage in sexual intimacy with that person? If any person, man or woman, takes intimate actions toward another personÂs body, that person must be held responsible for his or her own actions. When engaging in sexual contact with another person, each of us has the responsibility to get consent first.
So where is the outrage? Why isnÂt anyone yelling, "Why didnÂt he ask her?" For decades, many in the media have taken the approach of blaming the victim in sexual assault and rape cases. In the Kobe Bryant charges, reporters, sportswriters, and media professionals have been unfairly asking questions like, "Did she say no?", "What did she do to stop it from happening?", "What is her sexual past?", and "How can we be sure she didnÂt want it?" Domitrz challenges everyone to pose a simpler and more powerful question. Ask the accused, "Did you ask?"
Mike Domitrz is the author of "May I Kiss You? A Candid Look at Dating, Communication, Respect, & Sexual Assault Awareness" (Awareness Publications 2003). As a renowned expert on sexual assault awareness, he travels the country speaking in schools, communities, and on college campuses challenging students, parents, educators, and people of all ages to examine their own views on consent, dating behaviors, and sexual assault (http://www.mayikissyou.com). This past fall, Domitrz was brought in by the NFLÂs Houston Texans to speak with their rookies.
You can visit his special "Media & News Room" online section for Media and News Professionals at http://www.domitrz.com/media (including video footage of recent TV interview). Mike is a very engaging and thought-provoking guest. For an interview with Mike Domitrz, call Rita Hookstead at (800) 329-9390.
E-mail: [email protected]
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