Walk a mile in her shoes
Sgt. Robert Golden,
The sidewalks of downtown El Paso were crowded with women cheering, shouting catcalls and whistling as hundreds of men in red high-heel shoes prepared to walk a grueling mile wearing two-to three- inch pumps and feathery, white boas. A real feat for a man’s feet.
This was the scene at the 3rd annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event hosted by the Young Women’s Christian Association to increase awareness of violence against women and to raise funds for the Independence House, a YWCA program that houses women and children who are homeless because of domestic violence.
“Independence House gives them a place to live,” said Anita Rockett, the chief marketing and programs officer at the YWCA in El Paso. “It allows anonymity when they need it to shelter them from further violence. There is a safe place for them at the YWCA.”
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, and that is without factoring in the estimated 55 to 95 percent of women who do not report the physical abuse suffered from their partners, according to reports from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I think that women who are victims of violence in the home find themselves afraid to leave,” said Rockett. “I think those of us who are aware and understand what they are going through have to encourage them to ask for help.”
The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event was a metaphor comparing the pain of walking in high-heel shoes to the pain women face when dealing with domestic violence issues. The annual event helps spread awareness and encourage victims and witnesses to report abuse so they can get help.
“It’s very difficult to walk in heels, especially for a man who isn’t used to it,” Rockett said. “The high-heel shoe idea is to bring people here to have a good time so that we can share the message with them.”
Pfc. Juan Cervantes, a scout in Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Fort Bliss Garrison Command, put on his four-inch heels to support the Independence House after he was challenged by his first sergeant, but he now knows that it takes practice to walk in them.
“You gotta have great balance, but apparently I didn’t,” said Cervantes. “I nearly fell down at the start.”
As hard as it may seem to get men to put on a pair of heels and walk around, Rockett estimated more than 250 men registered to walk the mile with more men signing up for this year’s event than for the previous years.
The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event raised about $50,000 combined from the previous two Walk a Mile in Her Shoes events. Funds are earned from the registration fees for entering the race, paying to go to the after party or through other donations.
“I really appreciate all of the support we get from the men in the community,” said Rockett.
Anyone who is a victim, or knows a victim, of domestic violence is urged to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or the Texas Council on Family Violence at (800) 525-1978.
Fort Bliss personnel may also contact the Family Advocacy Program at 568-4878.
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