Empowered Voices: The Solution to Prevent Sexual Assault

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Empowered Voices, is an organization that strives to prevent sexual assault.by providing educational theatrical workshops for youth, military forces, professionals and more..

Empowered Voices is just a year old and could be the solution to prevent sexual-assault from happening within the workplace. Janine Divita and Stephanie Brooks are the founders behind this that strives to bring prevention education awareness into the workplace. Divita is a well-known figure in the Broadway world.  

About a year and a half ago while on the If/Then tour, Divita happened to cross paths with Stephanie Brooks. Brooks is experienced mental health management professional, specializing in prevention and risk education. Brooks’s husband was an active service member in the military and the Broadway show had special arrangements for those serving in the military since the musical number focuses on military families.

Having a family member that served in the military gave Divita a soft-= spot for those serving for our country.  

“We met for coffee and she [Stephanie Brooks] was telling me that she had come up with this idea to get theatrical prevention education into the military but the military was a little resistant because fear was a foreign thing and didn’t seem military appropriate.. But she thought bringing in a bubbly Broadway actress would help them get noticed” said Janine Divita.  

The two worked with the sexual assault team at joint bases in Tacoma, Washington, and from the success of that they saw this as an opportunity to help other military institutions.

In its first year, Divita says Empowered Voices has helped 96 percent of their participants feel more empowered to stand up for themselves. .The workshops have participants act out scenarios and practice asking for consent and then have the participants provide alternative scenarios for how situations could go differently. “We just believe that the more you practice anything the better you get out of it. So we kind of view it that way with with sexual assault prevention,” said Divita.

Empowered Voices speaks to the bases’ sexual assault prevention teams to figure out what the target areas are for that particular base but also include as much as they can within the scripts.  

“It happens in all different professions. It’s not isolated towards the military. The thing with the military is that it gets in the way of them being mission ready and that is that that is their goal.. To be mission ready,” said Divita.

The need for prevention education hits close to home with all of the allegations coming forward within the media.  

“We’re both passionate about it… I don’t know a woman who hasn’t experienced some kind of sexual assault, unfortunately, in her lifetime. I think respecting boundaries is the overarching issue. With our type of training it’s beneficial,” said Janine Divita.

Ladies, It’s Time to Make the First Move

The Fundamental Rules of Dating, according to our grandparents: Let the man make the first move; let him pursue you. It’s 2017 and the means for the “dating game,” has changed.  Online dating apps like Bumble are challenging the rules of dating and letting women make the first move.  “Should I text him/her first or wait until he/she texts me?”  Society has engrained in women to follow the traditional “rules of dating,” but now the game has changed.  I spoke with two relationship experts, male and female who dropped the “truth bombs” on the new rules of the dating world. Let’s take a closer look to what these experts have to say, and have your questions answered.

Who should make the first move?

“In general, women have always initiated [the first move] in some form or another,” said Dr. Robert Glover, the nice guy guru and received his doctorate in marriage and family therapy. “They send signals that might be subtle… unfortunately most guys are not very good at reading women’s subtle signals, women are much better at reading them.”

The gender roles in dating, or shall we call this gender-tables have turned. What’s the deal with making the first move, who should do it? “We’ve got a couple of things that are going on, women have to show the guy they’re interested and men also at the same time are so lazy now,” said Susan Winter, a relationship expert and best-selling author. “They’re so unaccustomed to making the first move that they don’t know how-to and I think they’re frightened.”

To Text or Not to Text… That Is the Question

We’ve all been there and heard the similar story one too many times, “So, I met a guy last night. We really seemed to hit it off but I haven’t heard from him yet. Should I text him first?”  What do you do in this situation? “If I didn’t hear from him the next day I would send a message just so there’s no room for error, and let him know I had a nice time,” said Winters. “Maybe he’s nervous or worse yet, his guy friends are advising him to wait a couple of days. Guys are coached by their friends, they’re normally idiots, telling other idiots what to do.”

Bumble vs. Tinder

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Sit in a bar in the city and look around. What do you see? Fingers swiping left and right down on their lit-up cell phone screens.  One swipe away from meeting the potential ‘love of your life,’ or maybe you’re just doing it for the fun of it? Well those who are using apps like Tinder, Bumble, Match.com, and Hinge are changing the way the online dating world works. Bumble compels women to make the first move.  “I like the idea that there’s a technology that lets women basically wink, make eye contact, or smile at a guy,” said Dr. Glover. Once you make your match, you have 24-hours to send that first message or your time is over. “I think it’s actually a great tool to help women feel a little bit safer. It lets women make the first move but not necessarily take charge of where everything goes after that.” he continued. Guys fail to read women but even if he’s not the brightest tool in the shed, he will know if he’s interested, so men, in other words, Bumble is lifting some weight off of your shoulders.

Not your mother’s rules of dating

Your grandmother’s rules of dating are now a thing of the past.  Susan Winters advises women to “think on your feet” and create your own rules. “If you’re a woman and you feel a man should approach you, stay true to that.”

Susan’s Rules

  1. Trial and error. Trial and error is not the outcome. It’s more about what makes you feel good and what makes you feel strong.
  2. Ask yourself, did you feel that was proactive and you took control?
  3. When you make a move on the game board do you feel strong or do you feel weak? Do you feel like you’re unified with yourself or do you feel like somebody told you to do it and it doesn’t feel right? Start checking in with what feels right to you.

The ‘C’ word: commitment

The fear of relationships or commitment is not just the guy you’re seeings issue; it’s everyone’s issue.  It’s society’s problem, not just his or hers.  There’s a billion fish in the sea, there’s so many people out there that we could not reach before.  Why are men so afraid of commitment? “Why would you tether yourself to one woman when the whole world is your playpen,” said Winter “You can be dating several women… and the minute one drops off, you can get another one because she lives in hope thinking you’re dating for a relationship.” Men are concerned for their masculinity and they don’t want that taken away from them. “There’s a certain emotional dynamic within men, the masculine part of our self creates freedom,” said Dr. Glover. The truth bomb has been dropped. Men are scared of being smothered and told what to do. “Guys have grown up surrounded by women telling them what to do… they learned through their mothers and female teachers how to keep women at a distance. That’s the piece I work with guys on and as a woman I can understand your frustration.”

Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game…

“Most women I know are so terrified to state the truth. We have amended ourselves to be agreeable to men. That’s’ not liberation. That’s not power. That’s not emancipation. That’s not strength,” said Susan Winters.  Women are told to hold back their feelings; don’t show all of your cards. Deep down we know what we want, we’re just scared to tell them what they want because what if they don’t want the same thing as them? It’s like when you’re lost when you’re driving and you don’t know whether to make a right or left.

“You’ve got a mass of confused people with no rules and they’re all afraid to tell the truth. It’s a mess and that’s why it’s a mess,” said Winters.

The root of the problem is we’re not being direct about what we want. “Nobody’s telling the truth or what they want! All of that vagueness, some people think it’s mystery or exciting. It’s excruciating; you don’t know where you stand,” said Winter.

“If you have high interest in somebody you don’t want to come on too strong… You don’t want to be too passive because then they will think you’re not interested,”said Dr. Glover. The game is the dance.  Dr. Glover calls this the lean.  The lean dance to dating is to lean in and then lean back. Show some interest, see how they respond, then you check and give them space to move towards you.

Advice from the experts

The best tip from Susan Winters: Start to know who you are, what you like, and what you don’t like. If you don’t know yet, then you have to explore! Exploration is important process of finding who you are.  You have to know yourself and love yourself first.

The best tip from Dr Robert Glover: Do the dance; lean in and lean back.  See how they respond to the dance .  If you get no response, quit leaning in.

Lean With It…

The rules to the dating game has changed.  Tinder lets you swipe left for someone you think is attractive or swipe right for someone you’re not interested in.  Bumble, is changing the rules of dating, one-swipe at a time.  Women have no choice but to challenge the rules of dating with bumble, and with the gender roles within relationships. There’s a silver lining to all of this, we are not being direct, we’re not being honest and stating what we want out of the relationship. As, Susan Winter encourages, don’t be vague, stay true to who you are;  that’s all that matters.  Dr. Robert Glover says to do the ‘dance’; lean in, and lean back.