In its 11th year, “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” once again attempts to tackle an ongoing issue.
The event featured male students, faculty and community members who walked a mile in high heels and pledged to never “commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.”
Also known as the National Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault and Gender Violence, the event was organized by the Sexual Assault and Gender Violence Prevention Group and the Albion Fellows Bacon Center.
“This event is communicating that people, particularly men, have the ability to put themselves in survivors shoes, literally and figuratively. It makes people feel they have been heard, even if they have never come forward about it; it makes them feel like their situation is relatable to others,” President of the Students For Gender Violence Awareness Kiara Perkins said.
The Albion Fellows Bacon Center is a local non-profit agency that works with victims of domestic and sexual violence offering safe shelter, individual counseling, support groups, legal advocacy and 24 hour response to victims needing to talk, report a crime or seek medical care.
According to the organization’s website, they have served 687 primary and secondary victims of sexual assault.
The event began with four student speakers presenting information on gender violence.
“As a man, I grew up in this world seeing women being trivialized and treated as sexual objects by men, and I feel that this is rather important that you see me standing here in front of you today,” SGA Representative for the Liberal Arts college Tiye Garrison said to a room of men and women in Carter Hall. “To you women out there, men are the ones who haunt you in your worst nightmares of being victimized and assaulted, but today we are here to show you that we men are not your enemy. We are here to show that we care about you and that we want to help fight for a cause that is oh so great.”
The speeches ended with sophomore criminal justice and journalism major Gabi Wy telling her experiences with sexual assault.
Wy, who is also the features editor at The Shield, said she has contemplated suicide five times since she was sexually abused at seven years old.
“When I was at my darkest, I told people I wasn’t going to live past 18,” she said. “Last month, I turned 19.”
Wy said she told her story to illustrate the effects that sexual assault can have on an individual.
“It isn’t always a man in a mask in a dark alley; it isn’t always a vicious predator,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s a classmate or someone you know. Sometimes it’s someone you look up to. Sometimes it’s someone you really, really like.”
The route for the mile passed through the University Center Breezeway, along University Boulevard and through the Quad, ending outside of the Liberal Arts building, where participants were met by speeches from influential members of the community.
The community members included Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding and Chief of the Evansville Police Department Billy Bolin.
“How we treat our fellow human beings is more important today than it ever has been,” Winnecke said. “Nice matters, respect matters and anything less than that should not be tolerated. We know the statistics are staggering; they are overwhelming and sometimes they can be daunting, but we should not be daunted.”