Why does Mike Domitrz, the Founder of The Date Safe Project, Inc., have such an intense passion and drive to:
* Dramatically improve society’s approach to healthy dating;
* Create a better understanding of how “consent” is obtained in intimacy;
* Reveal the keys to effective bystander intervention with alcohol and sexual activity; and
* Teach how to properly support survivors of sexual assault?
In 1989, Mike received a phone call informing him his sister had been raped. As he held the phone tightly to his ears, he simply could not believe what he was hearing. For two years, he struggled to deal with the rape and the effect it had on his life – both as the brother of a rape victim and as a man. He transferred colleges – so he could be close to home and his sister during the trial. Once back home with his family, Mike saw the pain, rage and sadness his parents, relatives, and family friends were also going through. The sexual assault of his sister had changed many people’s lives.
As months went by, Mike and his sister became even closer than before. While going to school during these challenging times, Mike noticed no one was addressing one of the most serious elements of sexual assault — a failure to obtain consent. The average person was NOT relating to the importance of needing to have permission before engaging in an intimate act with another person. Most individuals did not realize their current dating practices were based on standards of disrespect.
When it came to talking about the rape of his sister, no one knew what to say to him, his sister, or his family. Most people had never been given the skills needed to support a survivor of sexual assault or his/her family members. For the majority of people, talking about sexual assault was taboo.
Mike decided to make a difference. In 1990, Mike went to one of the few educators who spoke on sexual assault. The expert was surprised and impressed with Mike, a college student who was passionate about making a real difference on the issues surrounding sexual assault. He provided Mike with lots of information including myths, laws, stories, and interactive exercises. As Mike continued to research the issue of sexual assault and dating, he constantly heard people complaining that most sexual assault seminars, speakers, and experts were boring and depressing. Parents were saying, “My child would never do that“, but their kids were doing “that” and worse. Mike knew what needed to be done.
He started a “one person show” using a powerful tool, humor, to open people’s minds. Once people were laughing, they were much more likely to listen. With everyone’s attention glued to the program, Mike would show the devastation and trauma caused by sexual assault. The name of Mike’s program became “Can I Kiss You?” and has gone onto to be presented in schools, universities, communities, military installations, and at conferences throughout the United States. He has created a truly interactive and engaging program that inspires change in the lives of each audience member.
While Mike’s program is one of the most sought after educational presentations in North America today, the journey for Mike took time. Keep in mind he started this work during an era when schools were not openly discussing sexual assault. Mike had to know what he was talking about. While originally designing and producing the “Can I Kiss You?” show as a college student in 1991, Mike compiled extensive research from a diverse group of resources to insure his message was accurate, honest, and delivering healthy lessons. At first, he started speaking at elementary schools, middle schools, and a few high schools. From 1992-1993, he spoke in over 40 school systems in his region. Then, he began speaking on college campuses. While educators were praising his approach, most schools were still too afraid to bring a program discussing intimacy and sexual assault to their students. While society wasn’t ready, Mike was not going to give up.
Over the next decade, Mike worked as DJ and high school coach where he honed his skills in:
* Interactive education;
* Educating teenagers;
* Working with college students; and
* Performing in front of big and small audiences
He was determined to work in any capacity he could in order to be an at-home Dad working on the mission. In 2002, a couple of educational experts saw Mike present his “Can I Kiss You?” program at a national conference and they were amazed he was not traveling the country full-time speaking. They began to tell everyone about his work and soon he was being sought out by organizations around the country.
Mike’s desire was to leave an impact much longer lasting than any one speaker could create. In 2003, he founded The Date Safe Project, Inc. – an organization dedicated to leaving a positive impact on the many issues surrounding sexual assault and healthy intimacy. Rita was the first professional to join Mike as part of the DSP team and is still the person who takes care of you when you call today. Since 2003, The Date Safe Project, Inc. has grown to 5 team members – helping organizations and individuals throughout North America. We are honored to be one of the leading organizations for creating educational materials on consent, respect, sexual assault, and supporting survivors. Schools, parents, students, community organizations, crisis centers, and the military constantly tell us they turn to The Date Safe Project, Inc. for realistic solutions to tough conversations.
For Mike, his work is based on his greatest inspiration – his sister. Her strength and courage inspired him to speak out at the age of 21 years old. Today, her inspiration has helped change many people’s lives around the world. His sister is the entire reason the book Voices of Courage was created (she is one of the survivors/contributing authors in the book). Mike wanted everyone to see the amazing strength inside of each sexual assault survivor. Nothing could accomplish that goal as powerfully as his sister and the other 11 survivors did when they agreed to share their stories in the book Voices of Courage. From the start, ALL profits from the book and audio CDs have been donated to organizations addressing sexual assault.
Today, Mike is grateful to be the father of 4 boys and married to his wife of over 15 years – all who support and believe in his calling. While being dedicated to the mission of The Date Safe Project, Inc., Mike has always stressed the importance of setting aside time for family – for both himself and the entire DSP team. For this reason, he limits how many events he speaks at each year.
For all the recognitions and awards he has received, Mike has always said, “My greatest blessing in life is my family. THEY are amazing.”