The pain of wearing heels was "excruciating" for Grant Heming, a freshman at Dalton State College who participated in the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Thursday afternoon at the college.
"It was my first time wearing heels, but I'd do it again because it's for a good cause," Heming said.
The event was sponsored by the Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center. About 65 men and women walked a mile in women's shoes around the college to help raise awareness of the devastating impacts of domestic violence.
The center provides shelter, advocacy and support to victims of domestic violence in Whitfield, Murray and Gordon counties. With October designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the center is sponsoring events throughout the community.
"I think the walk really helps bring awareness to domestic violence," Heming said. "Even though it's a crazy event it is for a good cause."
Natalie Johnson, assistant professor of criminal justice at Dalton State and board president of the Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center, said the walk is a "fun way to bring attention" to domestic violence. She said 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will be affected by domestic violence at some point in their lives.
Capt. Chris Cooke with the Dalton Police Department said domestic violence is "not going away and will probably never be eradicated. I've seen many victims and many children ripped from families."
Cooke said the center started out in a two-bedroom home in the 1990s and is now a 36-bed facility.
"When victims have to leave a home in the middle of the night with nowhere to go, this is where they go," he said.
Amanda Cunningham, assistant director of the center, said it's important to educate people about domestic violence.
"A lot of people don’t realize how close to home it is," she said. "There was a domestic violence-related death in Murray County last week."
Authorities said a man shot and killed his wife before shooting himself in the head after a standoff with SWAT team members.
Cunningham said there were 121 homicides related to domestic violence in Georgia in 2016.
"Georgia ranks number nine in homicide deaths related to domestic violence, it's devastating," she said.
Thursday was Tyler Whitten's third time participating in the walk.
"It's painful wearing heels, but it's for a good cause," he said.
The criminal justice major said the walk definitely draws attention.
"If you see a guy in heels, you're going to stop and look," he said. "It's a good thing."
Domestic Violence Awareness Month events
• Friday, Oct. 13, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., candlelight vigil at the Mack Gaston Community Center.
• Saturday, Oct. 14, 6 p.m., Paint for Survivors at Painting Peeps, 1701 E. Walnut Ave., $25 per person (a portion goes to the Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center).
• Wednesday, Oct. 18, noon, Awareness Walk at the Murray County courthouse.
• Thursday, Oct. 19, National Wear Purple Day.
• Friday, Oct. 27, 8 a.m., domestic violence conference at Rock Bridge Community Church.
• Friday, Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m., Dalton High School football game balloon release, Harmon Field.
For more information on these events, call the Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center at (706) 278-6595.