In Her Boots, Part 5
The second controversial point about the IN HER BOOTS program, according to Janice Dombi, “is that this program is for women only. It includes all women.”
While 35% of the sexual assaults in the military involve 17 to 24-year-olds, the other 65% of assaults are spread among all age groups.
“We have tried to conduct co-ed workshops when leaders would not permit us to segregate men from women,” Dombi said. “When large numbers of men are in the room, the women stop talking.”
“Every university and think tank study that reported this phenomenon had its findings validated,” she continued. “Women in co-ed sessions respond in one or two-word answers. Men definitely need a similar values-based life skills program, but it needs to be separate. Men need a different program to have a culture change in the military.”
“I have walked “In Her Boots” for 33 years, so I am confident I can help women reduce their learning curve,” Dombi said. “I have not walked a day in HIS boots. I can share leadership skills but not talk to the men with the same gut-level, un-censored narrative.”
“Perhaps this is a future project but for now we want this program to be mandatory for all women,” she said. “One other facet to this controversial point is many women do not want a women-only program.”
“Women are so used to trying to get by undetected as ‘one of the guys.’ They don’t want to be separated and therefore noticed. From experience, when women are separated from the men, they are verbally beaten up mercilessly.”
“Every SHARP (Sexual Harrassment Assault Response & Prevention) class I taught or attended eventually evolved into a shouting match over the different standards (separate) for men and women in the physical fitness test.”
“As a result, women are denigrated not only on the internet but at every sexual assault prevention training class they attend. The physical fitness test is an institutional area where women can’t lay low and blend in.
Thinking they are one of the guys is a mistake that many military victims of sexual assault make.”
“They are so surprised when a peer tries to have sex with them, that they are in shock and don’t say anything,” Dombi explained. “The woman sees herself as ‘the same’ in this band of brothers.”
“The man, honestly believing
it to be the truth, says the sex was consensual because the woman didn’t say ‘no.’ For years the anti-Sexual Assault campaign was ‘No means No.’ The new ‘Yes means Yes’ is catching on much more slowly. The woman then reports the sex as a sexual assault because she was in shock and couldn’t find her voice.”
“It is a classic he said-she said that the Commander is left to unravel. When the Commander cannot find evidence to charge the man, the woman loses faith in her senior leaders. So bottom line, women will develop more confidence if they are in a women’s only group with their senior women mentors.”
“From TF SASA experience, once women saw what we were teaching, they understood why we wanted a separate program.”
The testimony below is from an In Her Boots participant.
“I think this program has the potential to change the way women are viewed in the military and, more importantly, how women view themselves. “Finding your voice” is a fantastic slogan for what you are doing – it empowers women to make their own decisions and do the right things…Thank you!” –PFC Jennifer Brady, IMET
“Finally, the Command Sergeant Major from III Corps believed in In Her Boots and saw the program’s women’s attitude and confidence improve,” Dombi reported. “He wanted to continue the monthly sessions after returning to Fort Hood, at the end of the deployment, and even identified a permanent building for us.”
“Unfortunately, shortly after returning to Fort Hood, he had to retire suddenly,” Dombi said. “I retired within months of re-deployment, and Lisa retired about a year later. We registered TF
SASA as an LLC in the state of Texas.”
“Fort Hood leadership refused to bring the In Her Boots program to the base despite our repeated requests and visits to the post to talk to senior leaders,” Dombi said. “The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SHARP) Office at Ft Hood was vehemently against having a skills-based program infringing on their turf.”
“We knew we wanted to write a book and got several of the original team to add chapters to share their expertise and guidance to our readers.”
“Our goal is to publish our book when senior civil and military leaders once again demand culture change,” Dombi continued. “We are optimistic that Leaders will finally admit they need to teach life skills if they want a change. An organization of people having the confidence to demand that they are treated with respect will reduce the
occurrence of sexual assaults.”
“Threats of punishment in a crime usually divided by he said-she said or
more likely he didn’t say-she didn’t say, will not change the culture.”
“It is time for senior leaders to roll up their sleeves and get to work.
The strategies outlined in In Her Boots are also applicable to college students because they are in the same age group as the most vulnerable to sexual assaults.”
The book will be available on Amazon and is now available for Pre-order on our http://www.inherboots.org web site.
This article is fifth 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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