October is nationally recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It’s been said you never know what someone else goes through in life unless you walk a mile in their shoes.
Domestic violence organizations have been using this phrase literally by encouraging those in their community to attend the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event. At this event, attendees are encouraged to put on their high heels, regardless of gender, and walk to raise awareness about domestic violence and local resources.
"It's a fun, unique way to bring attention to a serious issue and public health threat. What better way to get attention than to see men walking in high heels?" said Natalie Johnson, an associate professor of criminal justice at Dalton State College. While the event is called Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, this does not diminish the fact that men and boys can be victims of domestic violence as well.
For the last decade, the Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center has been sponsoring the annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event in Whitfield, Gordon and Murray counties. The last five events have been held and hosted by the college's criminal justice club, Lambda Alpha Epsilon, at Dalton State College.
The 11th annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraising event will be on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at noon at the Bell Tower on the Dalton State College campus. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. and the admission cost is $10 which includes a T-shirt.
Participants are encouraged to preregister by Monday, Oct. 11, to guarantee a T-shirt and in their desired size.
All proceeds go to the Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center, a nonprofit organization that assists victims of domestic violence that relies greatly on donations and fundraising. The center's shelter serves Whitfield, Gordon and Murray counties and provides services to women, men and children. The organization also has three outreach locations for clients who do not need shelter but still need resources pertaining to domestic violence.
Johnson teaches courses on family violence and victimology. She is passionate and keen on educating her students on the realities and dynamics of domestic violence so that they can take a stand, protect victims and make a difference in the community once they are working in the criminal justice system.
She is also a former board member and board president for the Board of Directors for the Crisis Center and remains actively involved in volunteering for the center. She teaches that domestic violence can include physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse by an intimate partner. Ultimately it is determined that domestic violence is about power and control of another person.
Children can be victims of domestic violence at the hands of their parents or other family members. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 1 in 7 children have experienced child abuse and/or neglect in the past year, and this is likely an underestimate.
In 2019, 1,840 children died of abuse and neglect in the United States. Anyone can be a victim, and anyone can be a perpetrator (doctors, lawyers, teachers, coaches, law enforcement, civil servants, politicians, clergy, etc.).
There is a myth that domestic violence is rare and that it "doesn't happen here" (e.g., smaller communities such as Dalton). In fact, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience intimate partner violence and stalking, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
It's also important to understand that domestic violence also includes emotional and psychological violence. Almost half of all women and men in the U.S. have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Given that this event is held on a college campus, it's important to note that college students are at a high risk for intimate partner violence. About 1 in 5 college students (20%) say they have been abused by an intimate partner, and nearly 33% (1 in 3) admit to having committed assault against their partner at some time, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Learn the facts about domestic violence. Help save a life! If you are a victim of domestic violence there is help for you. Call the Crisis Center Crisis Line at (706) 278-5586.