Local military combats national problem of sexual assault

Josh Braunreuther (WCIV)

By Stacy

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) -- A phone call changed Mike Domitrz's life.

His mom called and asked if he was sitting down. Next, she said, "Mike, Sherry's been raped."

"I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I became enraged. Over time I realized that's not going to do me any good," he said.

Instead, Domitrz decided to express his anger over what happened to his sister in a positive way. He realized the best way to help was by teaching others how they could help.

His message to sailors at Joint Base Charleston Wednesday was to call one of their loved ones when they got home and say, "If anybody ever has or does sexually touch you against your will or without your consent, I am always going to be here for you."

Domitrz travels the world talking with students and military members.

"We teach verbally asking first how to intervene when something bad is happening at a party involving alcohol and then how to support survivors so they can come forward," he said.

The military has been actively pursuing this cause ever since it created a Joint Task Force for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response in 2004. Since then, the number of sexual assaults reported to the Department of Defense has increased from 1,700 in 2004 to 3,374 in 2012.

"Every installation in the US service has a SARC: a sexual assault response coordinator," Joint Base Charleston SARC Tiffany Mizzell said.

Mizzell works with service men and women on prevention programs and she is there as a resource in the aftermath of an assault. The military provides sexual-assault-victim services for service members and their dependents, she said.

She planned Wednesday's program because Domitrz can relate to the sailors, she said. She hoped the way he shares his personal experience will help stop a disturbing trend in the U.S. military.

Military members in the Charleston area can call the Joint Base hotline anytime at 843-478-8615.

Civilians can call People Against Rape at 843-745-0144.

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