When men stumble down Broad Street in high heels during this year’s Walk a Mile event, there will be a sobering message behind the event’s lighthearted atmosphere.
A review project by the Georgia Commission on Family Violence and the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence found that in 2015 Georgia reached a 10-year high for domestic violence related homicides – 139 deaths.
That makes Rome’s annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes event, which promotes awareness of and action against domestic violence, more important than ever.
“The event is lighthearted but it’s intentionally so,” said Erin deMesquita, public relations/outreach advocate for Rome’s Hospitality House. “Domestic violence is a pretty difficult thing to get people to talk about. This event attracts attention. Yes, it’s men in heels and that’s pretty goofy. But the event really grabs the attention and brings to light that I’s not just a women’s issue. Not only will this community not stand for domestic violence but they’ll march against it.”
This year’s Walk a Mile Event will take place Friday, Oct. 14 and will take participants from Rotary Plaza, along Broad Street in a loop and then back to the plaza.
There will be serious and fun activities at the start of the event as participants gather in the plaza at 11 a.m. to register and prepare for the walk.
Representatives from the Hospitality House will speak about domestic violence and the services and resources available to the community. There will also be contests and prizes, a popcorn machine. A variety of decorated shoes will be available for those participants who don’t have their own heels.
The walk route will change this year. After leaving Rotary Plaza, participants will make their way down to the intersection with Second Avenue, then turn back up Broad Street and make their way to Rotary Plaza.
“Participation and awareness are the goal of this event,” deMesquita said. “When people come out on Broad Street, whether as participants or as bystanders, they can each champion this cause.”
She added that Hospitality House is the only resource for domestic violence victims in Floyd County. The facility offers 27 beds with ongoing services to victims and their children.
“We also help with the rehousing process,” she said. “And we help with establishing a safety plan in case a victim cannon leave their situation immediately. Every single situation is different. The barriers that hold victims from reaching us are different from case to case. We hope that an event like Walk a Mile shows victims that the community stands behind them and that they’re not alone. We’re here to help.”
Walk A Mile In Her Shoes 2016 will take place Friday, Oct. 14 starting at Rotary Park (between the Floyd County Courthouse and The Forum). Registration begins at 11 a.m. and the walk begins at noon. Participation is free and open to the public. Men are encouraged but not required to wear women’s shoes. Participants are encouraged to register in advance online at www.hospitalityhouseforwomen.org.