Domestic violence is devastating thousands of families in Georgia. The numbers are staggering: At least 12,000 children across this state are exposed to such violence every year. In 2015 domestic violence related homicides in Georgia reached a 10-year high of 139 deaths.

The figures are from a report by the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Georgia Commission on Family Violence. They pull back the curtain on one of the worst forms of abuse, too often hidden from view by victims afraid to call for help. The victims who survive face traumatic, long-lasting effects of violence ranging from feelings of helplessness, guilt and grief to financial hardships.

Against that backdrop, Rome’s annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes — an event arranged by Hospitality House for Women to promote awareness of and action against domestic violence — will take place Friday, starting in Rotary Plaza. There will be men wearing high heels as a way to send the message. This is singularly appropriate in view of the fact that of the domestic violence homicides, “Men perpetrated all of these incidents,” according to the report by the two agencies cited above.

The Walk A Mile event begins at 11 a.m. with Hospitality House representatives discussing domestic violence as well as services and resources available to the community. There will also be a selection of decorated shoes available for anyone without their own heels before the participants take their walk along Broad Street and loop back to the plaza.

The walk is designed to get people talking about domestic violence, says Erin deMesquita, spokeswoman for Hospitality House, Floyd County’s only resource for domestic violence victims and their children.

“This event attracts attention,” deMesquita said. “Yes, it’s men in heels and that’s pretty goofy. But the event really grabs the attention and brings to light that it’s not just a women’s issue: not only will this community not stand for domestic violence, but they’ll march against it.”

Unquestionably, this is not just a women’s issue. It is an issue for every decent person and it demands the attention of everyone.

While most men in our community won’t be able to take part in the Friday event, all can take to heart the plight of women and the children caught in domestic violence. Greater awareness should lead to increased alertness to the signs of domestic violence and timely reporting of them to the proper authorities.

That makes the Walk A Mile In Her Shoes well worth the effort.


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