Sexual Assault Survivors Respond to “Can I Kiss You?”

The most important person in the audience of a program discussing sexual assault is each SURVIVOR. While many programs discuss the pain of sexual assault, you want to insure the presentation you bring to your military installation UPLIFTS and provides each survivor a positive outlook for the future. Read below to see the difference the “Can I Kiss You?” program and Mike Domitrz’s approach is making with survivors!

“Your program was absolutely an amazing one to watch. I happen to be a victim of sexual assault and your program definitely helped me to realize that people do care. In my situation, i told only a few people, but no one believed me. When you mentioned how you should call up someone that you care about or even love to tell them that you’re there for them, it brought tears to my eyes.

When i eventually told my story, so many people did not believe me, and it hurt. I felt like no one was there for me when i needed them most. It brought tears to my eyes also because my little sister has been forced against her will to perform sexual acts on an older boyfriend she once had, and she was not ready. It made me cry because i love her so much and i wish she never went threw that pain. I

called her up tonight and told her exactly what you told us to tell someone we loved. Now she had never told me this before, but she had mentioned it to my other sister who told me. But tonight she opened up and told me everything she could. And i was so glad i could be there to listen. Your program helped me to cope a little better with the feelings i have bottled up inside of me from the assault that i went threw. It helped me realize that people really do care. And i hope that everyone that attended tonight’s program at Westfield state college realizes the importance of asking. Its simple, just ask. Thank you.”
— From MA

“When I was 12 my grandfather sexually assaulted me. I confessed a year later, received counseling for a week, told the police my story, but nothing was done. My family wouldn’t push charges, ignored the incident, put a smile on, and pretended it never happened. They did not want to scar our family’s name, especially someone as important to the community as my grandfather…a doctor. Every family gathering, I had to share meals, give him presents, hug and kiss my assaulter goodbye, acting as if nothing happened. I thought no one cared, until I was 17. My grandfather passed away and my older brother called me, the first thing he told me was “I remember, and I’ll always be here.” That was the first time anyone in my family ever acknowledged the situation in five years.
Earlier today while I was watching you up on stage you made me feel loved and cared for. I am not a family’s shameful secret; I am a person, a survivor. Thank you.”

— From WI

“You just came to my school a few short hours ago and I absolutely loved your presentation. I was really touched by your helpful information and just want to thank you, as a ‘survivor.’ I really wanted to meet you and tell you in person, but the crowd was too pushy and I was too close to the door before I had breathing room. I got your books and a t-shirt though, my roommate bought them for me. Because of your wonderful seminar, I called my mom as soon as I got to my dorm and told her everything about my encounter.
If I hadn’t gone to your seminar, I know for a fact that I would never have told my mother, and I know now that I shouldn’t have waited so long. I just want to thank you once again. My life looks much more brighter without that constant nagging feeling of doubt whether I should tell someone or not.”
— From MO

“I will never forget the impact you have made on my heart and those around me. I am a victim of rape, and I have been sharing my story for about six months. Now, I took the challenge of letting those around me know I am there for them if they ever need to talk. Doors are opening, and someone shared with me within less than a minute of the words coming out of my mouth. God is working through you in so many ways, and I just pray that hearts continue to be open and willing to listen to what you have to say.”
— From NE

“I was in your audience tonight. I am a freshman. I was in the front row in a black sweater, nervously devouring my fingernails.

The attached letter (not included here to protect confidentiality) is my Victim/Witness Impact statement that I read on August 25th, less then 2 months ago, to my best friends father before he was incarcerated. I came forward what will be two years ago this February 13th, two days before my 20th birthday.

I have never felt anything close to what I felt as I walked out those doors tonight. And like every other high school/college student has, I have walked out the doors of quite a few of those programs. As you said you receive dozens of emails, many of which, I’m sure share similar stories. That fact has always left me feeling no need to send in one more sob story, but tonight I felt different. It might be the fact that this was the first program I have been to since I’ve come forward and claimed my title as a ‘survivor’ or, maybe it was because I had a total stranger tell me how proud he was of me. A man who had never met me, who had never heard my story or seen me try and cope. I’ve heard my family, my friends, the police, the court officials and all of the people who have supported me through out this whole ordeal tell me how proud they are of me how strong they think I am and so on and so forth till I was blue in the face. But after so many times you start to not process it, or, like in my case you continue to not.

All of those people had heard my story. You hadn’t, like I said before. You didn’t even know I was there. Tonight was the first night I really heard someone tell me I was brave. And it hurt. In that room tonight I became a fighter and a survivor. I realized that everything that happened to me should have never happened. I have repeated that phrase ceaselessly for the past year and a half without them ever meaning anything to me. Thank you for bringing meaning to them. I have sat in therapy for an hour and half twice a week for the past year and half and have not felt the way I did tonight. The program tonight did touch so much on the type of abuse that was down to me as a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th grader and everything in between. However did about what happened to me as a freshman in high school and most recently as a senior. The August before becoming a freshman, I began a “courtship” with what would be a junior. I was in love. I had an upper classman, and not just any upper classman, but the captain of the basketball and golf teams. We started dating in November and by March he was threatening to break up with me if I didn’t sleep with him. In April I explained to him why I wouldn’t sleep with him. He was the first person told, but he was the second to tell me it wasn’t a big deal. I laid in his arms and told him how since the beginning of second grade, when I moved to Martha’s Vineyard, Steven had been sexually abusing me. I explained to him how Steve would call me out of bed at night, with his very own daughter in the next bed. How he would call my parents to arrange play dates, play dates that were kept only by him and not his daughter. When I had finished telling this all to my John (name has been changed for confidentiality reasons) he kissed me on the forehead and told me he was sorry, but that if we had sex he would never hurt me like that. Needless to say I forgot the whole thing ever happened because it was after all obviously not a big deal. If it was such a bad thing Steve would have never done it, and if John really loved me, and he didn’t think it was a big deal, then it must not have been. We broke up a year later. . .

Steve pled guilty (and confessed to) to sixteen counts of indecent assault and battery (he confessed also to several other charges that had not been brought up by me, but had been against me) on a child under the age of 14, but pled not guilty to the twelve counts of statutory rape.

In the 19 months leading up to the trial I never felt as brave as I did tonight, sitting in your audience. I wish I had heard your program sooner. In all the other programs I had been to, none had asked the students to ‘open the door’ for someone else. Nor had the speaker experienced a first hand account of what rape can do to a person. When you asked us to close our eyes tonight, I saw Julie (name replaced for confidentiality). Julie is the daughter of Steve. What hurt me the most, before our friendship ended, was the day she told me she couldn’t remember her childhood. I was sad at first because that meant she couldn’t remember all the fun we had had and all the times we had made cookies with her now deceased mother. After I came forward I replayed the same conversation in my head and hurt all over again. When something traumatic happens, as I’m sure you know, you block it out. Sometimes, even a whole childhood. Julie has yet to come forward and we have not talked since her father was put away. Tonight however I opened the door for her. I created a MySpace account and wrote her a message telling her I loved her. I didn’t sign my name, but I did leave the link and phone number to a national help hotline.

I don’t know if she’ll come forward, or if for that matter anything ever happened to her, but I do know I opened the door, just like you had asked us to do.

It has taken me close to all night to write this letter, which I’m sure is filled with atrocious spelling and painfully obvious punctuations and grammar mistakes, but that is after all why I wrote it from my college dorm room.

I can’t explain to you what tonight meant to me. What happened to me was not necessarily what happened to me, but the way people can reach out and help is exactly the same. When you explained that it wasn’t funny, that a girl could rape a guy, and that survivors find nothing about rape amusing I looked around and realized I had been the only one in my row not laughing. Before tonight I probably would have laughed, but after you told me how proud you were of me and how strong you thought I was, I couldn’t. I thought about the little boy that could easily been in my place and I couldn’t laugh.

Thank you so much for what you gave to me tonight. I am a survivor of acts for worse then an unwanted kiss, but from tonight on I will never have to put up with another unwanted kiss or touch because I know I can say no. More importantly however is that I will be damned if see a person I love go threw the pain I did because of something I could have prevented. This revelation could very well have come at another time, but it came tonight and because of you.”
— From NY

“Dear Mr. Mike Domitrz:
When you came to my campus, I spoke with you about me being a victim of sexual abuse when I was teenager. When I was in high school, I asked my girlfriend, at the time, if I could kiss her (we were dancing). She replied, ‘Yeah I guess, sure.’ I think I might have caught her off guard. Well, that was in 1999; now it is 2005, and I am a recently un-closeted, 23 year old male. I have never been asked, ‘Can I kiss you?” Guy’s mistakenly assume it is okay.
I wrote a speech for ‘Take Back The Night’ (this is my speech for tonight). Here it is:
‘Good Evening, My name is __________”. Last Semester, I spoke about being a victim of both physical abuse (at the ages of 6 to 12) as well as sexual abuse (at the age of 14). However, after attending the speech entitled: “Can I Kiss You?“, by Mr. Mike Domitrz, last Tuesday night, I have realized that I am not a victim of the abuses; but instead a SURVIVOR. Thank You, Mike.'”
— Damian (NY)

“I would like to thank you so much for your words and compassion. I have never considered myself a survivor or even a victim, but after last night I realize that I have been involved in nonconsensual physical contact and I have a renewed outlook on that experience after your presentation. Thank you for telling the stories, they are so important and I have an immense respect for you and the people you have worked with. A friend and I talked last night until 1:30 about your perspective and he was reduced to tears, we were both truly moved. Thanks again!”
— From TX

“You made something that kids normally don’t want to hear about and turned it into something people will be talking about for a very long time. Thank you again for what you are doing.”
From WI

“Thank you so much for your talk. I am a survivor and it brought back a lot of the things and feelings that I went through. Everything you said was 100% accurate to what I went through and what my family went through. Ironically the kid that did this too me was in the room, and I can only hope that you touched him as much as you touched me. Thank you so much!”
— From PA

“Mike, I was just at your presentation and I found it to be very helpful. I am a freshmen and two weeks after coming up to school, I was sexually assaulted. I kept blaming myself for what happened — saying things like “if I hadn’t have had so much to drink, this wouldn’t have happened to me.” I am having a real hard time forgiving myself for letting this happen to myself. I was sitting in the second row tonight. Every word you said made me realize I should be thankful I am still here. That is a really scary time for someone to go though and no one really realizes it . . .You have inspired me to try to get past this and work hard to keep living my life. I thought this could never happen to me and it did. People don’t realize that this can happen to anyone at any time. Drunk, sober, at night or during the day. When you said the word survivor, that really hit home. Thanks for your advice and support.”
— From NC

“I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for speaking out about rape survivors. I saw your program two or three years ago and I just saw it again recently. Between the two programs, I was raped by my best guy friend (at the time). And when you spoke of survivors, I felt as if you were speaking directly to me, and it gave me the hope and strength to talk to my friends about what happened to me. It’s comforting to know that other people share the idea that it’s not the victims fault, and that we weren’t asking for it. Just thank you from the bottom of my heart. I think if more people had the courage to speak about rape it would be easier for survivors to recover. I like the word survivor. I never really thought of it like that before. It was always victim to me. The word victim is weak, and survivor gives me hope that I will indeed over come.”
— From CT

“I wanted to let you know how much that presentation has changed my life. I am a survivor of almost three years now, and everything you said touched home for me. I wish I had seen you sooner because it is such a serious and real topic. What I really wanted to tell you is that I brought my boyfriend with me to your presentation and it has brought a change in him I can barely recognize. He is a man’s man and has a certain attitude when it comes to male and female roles. But after watching your presentation, he has a new mannerism, so to speak, with me. I knew that he loved me, but now he shows it by respecting me. He said to me, ‘You know babe, even though we’re together, I never want you to feel that you don’t have a choice because you do. Always.’ For him to say that to me meant more than anything in the world. I just wanted to say thank you and what you are doing is amazing.”
From WI

“First of all.. I want to thank you. Your presentation was one of the best I’ve ever seen, if not THE best. It especially hit home for me because when I was 14 years old, I was beaten and raped by a 33 year old man. . . Tonight when you came to Oswego and gave your presentation, it was amazing to me. You don’t know how much I appreciate someone like you and how you presented yourself and how you affected everyone in that room. I could go on for longer but all I really wanted to say was thank you so much. I mean that with all my heart. Thank you again.”
From NY

ARE YOU A SURVIVOR who attended the “Can I Kiss You?” program?

If you are a survivor who attended the “Can I Kiss You?” program, share your comments in our new Audio Testimonial Program by clicking here. Another option is to visit our online Forum for Sexual Assault Survivors by clicking here. You choose!


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