Today is the day that hundreds will gather in downtown Rome to raise awareness about domestic violence through the 11th annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.

As with previous years, the men are encouraged to wear women’s shoes which adds a fun aspect to the walk. All are welcome to participate, and the walk itself is free to anyone who wishes to register.

This walk down Broad Street is more than just a good time; it draws attention to the urgent issue of domestic violence.

“It is difficult to believe that in this day in time this kind of conversation is still necessary,” said Ashley Demonbreun-Chapman, outreach coordinator at the Hospitality House for Women, Inc., said in an earlier article. “Domestic violence. How is this still a leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 19 and 34? How we are still plagued with questions like ‘Well, why does she stay?’ It grows tiresome.”

She said that she feels inspired by the community and those who come every year to show their support in spreading awareness in this issue. However, she is most inspired by all of the brave men and women who stand up and share their stories of survival and healing.

Domestic violence does not discriminate she said. It is not confined to any one group of people, and it is fueled by the silence of its victims. Some young people think that it is normal, it’s not.

The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event is one way to break that silence, as numerous men will stumble down Broad Street today while family and friends cheer them on. It creates a warm and friendly atmosphere while at the same time letting victims know they are not alone.  

The walk begins at 11 a.m. at Rotary Plaza where walkers will gather to listen to event organizers say a few words about domestic abuse as well as hear stories about survivors of abuse. Everyone at Rotary Park will be treated to music, photo opportunities with local mascots, and can participate or watch outrageous competitions with men in high-heels looking to win “hottest” legs.

Leaving Rotary Plaza, walkers will strut down two blocks of Broad Street, then will circle back to the start of the procession. Supporters are encouraged to cheer on walkers and take plenty of photographs. There will be shoes available to those who need to borrow a pair. Every year men wearing all sorts of women’s shoes make an effort to navigate downtown without falling flat on their faces. The event will end around 1 p.m. and anyone who wants to watch is free to do so.

The 24-hour crisis line may be reached at 706-235-4673. Visit online at www.hospitalityhouseforwomen.org to learn more or to register for the walk.