Students take steps in her shoes

Students take steps in her shoes

Bobby Shipman

A family friend raped Andrew Gregory at the age of 4.

Scared to tell his parents, this continued until he was 7.

“I was told by my rapist that if I ever told my parents he would kill me,” he said.

Gregory and another victim of domestic violence told their stories to a crowd of over 500 people Tuesday evening in Mitchell Auditorium for “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” which raises awareness for sexual assault and rape.

He suppressed his memories of those three years, but still struggled to cope with the aftermath by pushing away anyone who tried to get close to him and losing focus at school, he said.

“My behaviors were very bad, and I acted out toward others,” he said. “I had no respect for authority, I had no friends.”

Gregory’s parents sent him to a boarding school featured in the documentary “Kidnapped For Christ,” where he suffered physical abuse and his condition worsened.

Living with his grandparents afterwards he found a lot of support and eventually graduated high school after being expelled twice.

“I thought my condition would go away as I got older but it got worse,” he said. “I became depressed, I blamed myself for everything that happened to me. I cut myself, drank excessively. I set myself up for failure because I saw myself as unworthy of being happy.”

Fortunately Gregory formed one lasting bond with his now wife of five years, he said.

The annual event, hosted by the Albion Fellow Bacon center, invites men to strap on high-heeled shoes and march silently throughout USI’s campus.

Albion is a non-profit agency, which serves victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Many men, mostly fraternity brothers, sported silver, gold, red, pink and black heels, and wore T-shirts that read “Put yourself in her shoes,” to show support.

Freshman Kyle Lasmake of Sigma Pi came out with his brothers for the cause.

“It just helps us realize what some people go through,” Lasmake said.

He stepped cautiously as he click-clacked in bright red pumps across the rough pavement. Lasmake said he couldn’t imagine walking in heels all day.

“It sucks. I just started. This is horrible,” he said. “All I know is (these shoes) are pretty red, and they hurt my feet.”

Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and Chief of Police Billy Bolin turned out in bright red heels as well.

Bolin said this is his third year walking and he thinks he is getting used to wearing heels.

Although now in an administrative position, Bolin said he encountered daily domestic violence cases while on duty.

“Rapes fortunately aren’t (daily), but it’s frequent,” he said. “We’ve had quite a few of them in a city as small as Evansville.”

Bolin said he thinks “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” brings awareness and gets people talking about the topic of sexual violence.

“The story we heard up there is not uncommon at all,” he said. “There are probably, and I am making a guess here, 15 to 20 cases like (Gregory’s) a year that we find out about.

After Gregory’s memories resurfaced of his childhood sexual assault, he contacted the Albion Fellow Bacon Center for help.

“I have a new lease on life (now) – my marriage is stronger than ever,” he said. “I am going to be graduating with a criminal justice degree, (and) I have more friends than ever before.”