Athens Review, Athens, Texas

February 15, 2013

If the shoe fits ...

Men called to ‘Walk a Mile in Her Shoes’ to help end abuse

Kathi Nailling
The Athens Review

Athens — You can't understand a person's experiences until you “Walk a mile in their shoes.”

The international men's march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence, “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.” is coming to Athens. The men's march to stop, rape, sexual assault and violence against women is an enjoyable opportunity for men in Henderson County to raise awareness about the serious causes, effects and remediation of sexual violence.

The event literally asks men to walk one mile in women's high-heeled shoes. Donna Johnson, Director of Outreach for East Texas Crisis Center said, “It's not easy walking in these shoes, but it's fun, and it gets the community to talk about something that is really difficult to talk about – gender relations and sexual violence. It demonstrates that men are willing and able to be courageous partners with women in making the world a safer place.”

Frank Baird, founder of Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, wrote, "Violence against women does not just affect women. Men are hurt and angered when women they care about are raped. And the same violence that targets women also targets men, because rape isn't about sex – it's about power, control and violence. I knew that for every man who could be persuaded to think differently about gender roles, gender relationships and gender violence, many more women would be spared. And so, too, would the men in their lives."

Since 1993, the East Texas Crisis Center has been providing services for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in Henderson County.

According to Johnson, the ETCC advocates for more then 248 new victims, and on-going services for over 200 survivors of abuse. The crisis center, with the community’s help, wants to inform the world of the valuable contribution men are making to stop violence against women.

ETCC will host the first of an annual “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes” event. The walk will take place on June 1, during the Fiddlers Reunion Festival.

Registration for the walk will be available the first of March.

“We hope all men will sign up as an individual, or form a team to participate,” said Johnson.

Proceeds raised from the walk will benefit the East Texas Crisis Center.  For information about participating in the walk, contact Donna Johnson at 903-675-2137, Kim Walker, Athens Daily Review,  at 903-477-1706 or Kim Hodges, First State Bank at 903-676-1923.