Family Crisis Center Executive Director Laura Patzner wants area men to put themselves “in her shoes.” By “her,” she is referring to the countless women who suffer from sexual and domestic violence.
That is the purpose of the fourth-annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event set for Thursday night at the Barton County Courthouse Square. “It is a fun opportunity for men (who wear red stilettos) to educate the community about a very serious subject and to rally the community to take action to prevent sexual and domestic violence.”
She is asking guys to first “walk the walk.” There is an old adage that says “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” It’s not easy walking in four-inch high heels, but this light-hearted endeavor gets the community to talk about what is a serious problem.
Then, she wants folks to “talk the talk.” This dialogue on domestic violence is crucial. “While hidden away, it’s immune to cure,” she said. “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes helps men better understand and appreciate women’s experiences, thus changing perspectives, helping improve gender relationships and decreasing the potential for violence. For healing, it informs the community that services are available for recovery. It demonstrates that men are willing and able to be courageous partners with women in making the world a safer place.”
Sexual and domestic violence does not just affect women, she said. “It affects men who care about them.”
Sexual violence is an epidemic: Every two minutes someone is raped in America. One in six women is a victim of sexual assault. One in every four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. One in five female high school students reports being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
“That means someone you know, someone you care about, has been or may become the victim of sexual violence,” she said. “It may be your friend, your mother, your sister, your girlfriend, your wife or your daughter.”
Sure, it is entertaining to watch a bunch of men struggle to walk in heels, but those sobering statistics remind us of the real reason for the walk.
The event was scheduled for this past Thursday, but the pending unseasonably cold weather prompted week’s postponement. Even those who don’t “walk” are encouraged to attend. We all might learn something.