Part 4: In Her Boots
The In Her Boots program supplements the existing Department of Defense programs that
include guidance for reporting assaults, legal assistance, and medical assistance.
The In Her Boots Program focuses on Prevention with a one-day workshop for senior mentors followed by a one-day workshop called “Finding Your Voice, ” for all women.
This continues with 11 monthly sessions with one primary skill or topic per lesson. Each lesson includes a presentation and discussion by senior mentors and action-oriented homework. A mentor guide and the workbooks for the program and assists with each lesson if the base requests assistance.
“Despite the opportunity to make a real change in the military, this program is controversial,” said senior Colonel Janice Lembke Dombi (Retired). “I believe this is for two main reasons.”
“First, for some reason, including Congressional leaders supporting
reducing sexual assaults, identify anything to do with ‘rape prevention’ as supporting rape culture.”
Why is Sexual Assault and Sexual Harrassment prevention a taboo subject when it involves developing life skills?
“Prevention is not taboo in other areas of our daily lives,” Dombi says. “We wear seat belts when we drive and we lock our doors at night before we go to bed—just to be safe. We tuck our necklace in our shirt and don’t wear flashy jewelry when we ride the subway.”
“We build prevention into our lives every day without a second thought, but that doesn’t mean it’s our fault if something bad happens to us,” Dombi continued. “If someone rear-ends our
car, while we were wearing our seatbelt, we avoid hitting the windshield. Our airbag may deploy in an accident, which is also a preventive measure, but it is not linked to a fault.”
“Prevention doesn’t admit guilt or blame. In the case of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harrassment, prevention skills may save years of hard work recovering from the mental and possible physical anguish following a sexual assault. The same skills may prevent years of suffering and frustration of not being taken seriously in the workplace with repeated sexual harassment.”
“The most vigorous preventive measures will empower, educate, and inspire women with resiliency to
protect themselves and do better at whatever task they attempt.”
“Women will perform their military
duties better, be valued team members, and rely on the resources already in the military’s inventory to
accomplish the task.”
Not all Service Members are sexually assaulted, and some are attacked multiple times.
“Imagine someone gave you a crystal ball, and you could look in the future,” Dombi said. “If you saw a predator
coming, you would be more prepared to find your voice and respond confidently. My goal is to help
you look into the crystal ball.”
“In my opinion, the argument that prevention is supporting rape culture is ludicrous. Do we say locking your door at night is supporting Robber Culture? No. People should not rob houses and people should not rape.”
“We can learn safety measures to reduce risk in both situations. We can’t wish away either problem.”
“In Her Boots is a life skills program. The more confident women the program produces, the more significant the reduction in the occurrence of sexual assault.”
“Unless the In Her Boots program
is attached to sexual assault statistics, the military won’t take time for a life skills program.”
Continued in Part 5
Part 4, ‘In Her Boots’ Attacking Sexual Assault in the Military
Part 5, ‘In Her Boots’ Preventing Sexual A
This article is fourth 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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