Tyler Pipes has his own pair of high heels prepared for this year’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.
“They’ll hopefully show off my legs,” Pipes, senior kinesiology and sports management major, said. “Unfortunately, we haven’t had too much sun to work on my tan, but the heels will make up for it.”
On April 9, Albion Fellows Bacon Center and USI will hold the seventh annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event. This event is an international men’s march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence.
Albion Fellows Bacon Center is a nonprofit agency that serves victims of domestic and sexual violence. The center provides emergency shelter, a 24-hour crisis line, short-term individual crisis, counseling, support groups, and legal and medical advocacy to victims and their friends and family.
Pipes said the more people that become informed of the many ways to prevent these situations as well as how to overcome them, the more likely these terrible things will be completely eliminated from the area.
“Having domestic abuse come close to my family proved that it could happen to anyone,” Pipes said. “Being able to inform others about the precautionary steps as well as what to do and who to go to while in the terrible situation is the least someone in my position can do.”
Pipes said this is his fourth year participating in the walk. He initially got involved with the Rugby Club, which helps out and participates each year.
Jordan Whitledge, senior business administration and economics major, said the USI community has embraced the event and what it stands for, and it continues to grow every year.
“My favorite thing about the event is standing, even in high heels, with men and women throughout the community to (stand against) an important issue like gender violence,” Whitledge said.
Whitledge said USI has dedicated and involved students, administrators and community members that want to bring this issue to light and stop gender violence.
“It is an important issue for our students,” Whitledge said. “We want to stop gender violence on our campus, and this is one way we hope to do it.”
Christina Wick is in charge of the event and has worked with Albion Fellows Bacon Center since the walk began, and she said she is proud of the community support and student body support that comes together for this event each year.
“I hope for this year we have a bigger crowd of students and members of the community,” Wick said. “Also, for more people to take action to stop violence.”
Wick said this is the only walk like it in southern Indiana, and the Albion Fellows Bacon Center works with USI in a Sexual Assault Task Force. She said she wants people to be more aware that everyone can do their part to stop violence.
“We encourage victims to speak out,” Wick said. “Definitely talking to someone is a big part of the healing process.”
At the walk, a young man will speak about how child sexual abuse had an impact on his life and his role with helping other survivors.
The event is free and open to the public. Men, women and children are allowed to participate. Registration begins at 5 p.m. in the University Center Amphitheater, near the Cone.
EVANSVILLE —Hundreds of men donning high heels, pumps, sandals and other types of women’s shoes rallied at the University of Southern Indiana campus Tuesday afternoon as part of an annual effort to raise awareness of rape and sexual violence.
“We’re trying to convey that men can put themselves in women’s shoes to stand up and do something different in situations,” said organizer Christina Wicks, a senior victim support specialist with the Albion Fellows Bacon Center.
The nonprofit agency that serves victims of domestic and sexual violence has planned the event all seven years it has been staged.
The “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event winds through the University of Southern Indiana Campus Tuesday evening.
Over 500 students and community members participated in the annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.” Men slipped on female footwear and walked a mile around the campus in between scheduled speakers.
Wicks said a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey ranked Indiana as No. 2 in the number of forced sex incidents involving teens.
In 2012, six women were killed by their partners in Vanderburgh and Gibson counties, and an incident being investigated as a murder-suicide left a Posey County couple dead on Sunday. This spike in domestic incidents points to the need for events such as this, Wicks said.
“It definitely goes to show why we need to increase awareness and why we need to make sure people know where to go when they need help,” said Wicks, who’s been with Albion for nine years.
Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin, sporting a pair of red high heels, said the number of domestic incidents that resulted in death last year is “unacceptable,” but he added he doesn’t see a trend developing regionally.
As for the rally, Bolin said it’s been good about raising awareness in the community about domestic and sexual incidents.
“I think for the women, it empowers them,” he said. “If one of them has something going on like that, hearing these people talk and seeing this may help them come forward.”
Two shared their stories of sexual and domestic abuse: USI senior Chrissy Harris and Andrew Gregory spoke before the crowd, offering a sobering moment to the event.
“ ... I felt the force of a line drive softball to the eye. He had hit me for the first time. I remember holding my face and crying. I just wish I would have realized then that the sentence ‘I won’t do it again’ was just a lie,” said Harris on an abusive relationship she had with her high-school boyfriend. It took her months to leave her boyfriend, and even longer to come out about the sexual abuse she experienced, she said.
Gregory, who spoke quickly, said he was sexually abused between the ages of 4 and 6. The traumatic events left him scarred and sometimes angry and confrontational with people. It wasn’t until his 20s that he sought help through Albion, he said before a silent crowd.
“I learned (with help from Albion) how to take back control of what was my mine all along: my life,” Gregory said.
Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann, Chief Deputy Dave Wedding and Sheriff Eric Williams were among those who walked the mile with the crowd.
Williams, a USI grad, has been to all seven “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” events, he said. Tuesday’s crowd was larger than previous years, he said.
“It shows the students really care,” Williams said.
Student Melanie Gipson, a USI senior graduating this year, said she’s walked every year since it started to support her aunt who was killed by her boyfriend eight years ago.
“They had a domestic violent relationship for about seven years on and off. He ended up taking her life,” Gipson said.
She supports groups like Albion Fellows Bacon Center for the help they provide.
“Other people should just have enough respect for someone else to treat them just equally no matter how they’re dressed or how they’re acting,” she said.
The crowd — estimated by campus security to be more than 500 — consisted mostly of students associated with fraternities and sororities wearing their “Greek Week” T-shirts in lieu of the white T-shirts emblazoned with “Put yourself in her shoes” provided by Albion for registering for the walk
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