WINCHESTER, Va. (WDVM) — An organization in Winchester, Virginia, is raising awareness for domestic violence and sexual assault in a unique way.
You’ve likely heard the saying, “before you judge someone, walk a mile in their shoes.” In Winchester, the Laurel Center interpreted the phrase quite literally and asked residents, specifically men, and walk a mile along the Loudoun Street Pedestrian Mall on Saturday afternoon in women’s high heels, flats, or bedazzled flip flops that were provided.
“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” is a nationwide public awareness campaign. Executive Director Faith Power explained men plan a crucial role in preventing sexual assault and domestic violence. This event provides a way to raise awareness, as the walk gives men the opportunity to feel what it is like to walk in a woman’s shoes.
“Having men aware and involved in this event is really critical to stopping sexual assault,” Power said. “They get a sense of not just what it’s like to walk in heels but just to be a woman and to at times be fearful of being sexually abused.”
Jeremy Morgan participated in the walk, often leading the men walking down the Loudoun Street Pedestrian Mall. He walked to honor the women in his life, like his ex-wife, daughters, and mother.
“It means a lot to me and a lot of men, I guess, don’t really understand what a woman has to go through on a daily basis,” Morgan said. “It comes down to a lot more than just walking in a pair of heels, comes down to, you know, being emotionally attacked or physically or other things.”
Sheriff Les Taylor of the Winchester City Sheriff’s Office sported a pair of bedazzled flip-flops during the walk to support the cause. His daughter and her family joined him.
“I came out for many different reasons. All the women in this city, in this county, in the world, especially my two daughters,” Sheriff Taylor said.
"I also came out for my son, because he's a young man, and we need to teach our young men that sexual assault is not okay. Rape is not okay."
According to The Laurel Center, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, and every 9 seconds, a woman in the United States is assaulted or beaten.
For more information on the work of The Laurel Center and other resources for survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse, please visit their website.