“In Her Boots” Part 3
Retired US Army Colonel Janice Dombi said the team behind “In Her Boots” designed their “formal program to reduce the learning curve to get these junior women wise beyond their chronological years.”
“We need them to assess their situation and know how the
military systems work so they do not become prey to predators,” Dombi explains. “Suppose we can develop their confidence by giving them tools to navigate in a male dominant institution. In that case,they can stand
up for themselves and make informed choices with the education of a more senior Service Member.”
“Many of the skills we teach are basic life skills people are not learning at home. 40% of children in the US are born out of wedlock. 32% are in single-parent homes. Parents are working hard to keep food on the
table and many do not have time or inclination to teach techniques and skills and influence their
children to treat everyone with dignity and respect.”
“Media coverage frequently illustrates our national situation involving social media’s influence, including bullying and trolling, compounded by the
internet’s anonymity. This is the society from which we draw our all-volunteer military.”
“I know we can reduce the learning curve and provide structured lessons for women to increase their confidence to stand up for themselves.”
“As an essential byproduct, we will reduce the occurrence of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
We teach women service members how to march, how to throw a hand grenade, qualify with a weapon, and everything required to start a job as an apprentice. But we don’t teach them how to navigate a male dominant organization with a track record of not treating women with dignity and respect—one that needs a culture change.”
“Most women in the military will not have a woman in her chain of command. She probably will not have a relationship with one either unless they met at the gym or church.”
“In Her Boots works with units to assign junior women a senior woman military mentor so she has a woman she can turn to for advice or assistance with her chain of command.”
“When possible, the senior ranking woman is not in her unit so there is no conflict of interest. Each month women have a formal program, taught by the mentors, and the junior women get a homework assignment to practice their skill of the month.”
“For example, one skill is establishing and enforcing boundaries. The senior
mentor monitors progress and holds the mentees accountable. In the TF SASA book I gave this example from my experience assisting a junior woman:”
“A young woman told me a male Soldier continued to come to her work area and sit on her desk with his legs spread open, preventing her from pulling her chair up to her computer without sitting between his legs. He asked her out several times, and she told him, “no.” I asked her how she told him.
The Soldier replied that she smiled and laughed a little because she did not want him to think she was mean. You are not being mean when you enforce a boundary. You are confidently stating your
expectations. In a matter of minutes, this Soldier learned the intricacies of delivering a message. I sent her away with homework to establish the boundary with her unwanted visitor.
At our next mentoring session, she reported that she firmly gave her message, and he had not been back. She was so proud of herself. She said she felt like she found a magic wand. She found a life skill.” —Janice Lembke Dombi in TF SASA Sexual Assault Prevention and Recovery Strategies.
Military Current Programs:
“The military has made many changes to the sexual assault prevention and response (SHARP) program in the past years, but most of the money spent and time involved teach about reporting options and resources available AFTER an Assault.”
“Classes are usually a big stack of PowerPoint Slides that a near-peer can flip through without any real-world examples.
More recently, bases have added a
class where a third party company comes in and does skits in a large auditorium to teach bystander
This training gives people ideas of how they can help and step in if they see someone in a dangerous situation.”
“These are all passive learning, I put it in the awareness category. Junior service members repeatedly ask for different training, more practical training, as reported in the DOD report to Congress.”
Part 3, ‘In Her Boots’ Preventing Sexual Assault on Military Junior Women
Part 4, ‘In Her Boots’ coming soon.
This article is third in a series of how the TF SASA took matters into their own hands, and with the blessings and encouragement of their superiors, created a movement within the military known as “In Her Boots.”
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