There is an old saying, “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”
Today, Sault Ste. Marie held its first ever Walk A Mile in Her Shoes event in support of Women in Crisis Algoma. This event involved men walking a mile in red heels to support difficult topics such as rape, sexual assault, and gender violence.
Erin Lodge, the administrative assistant at Women in Crisis/Walk Organizer, said she thinks this event is a monumental move for the community of Sault Ste. Marie.
“So many people are coming together in saying that they’re going to stand against violence against women and children in this community,” she said. “The walk has been going on in other communities since 2001, but we’re just so excited that the Sault has gotten on board and they’re doing it as well.”
Lodge explained the reasoning behind the red heels.
“The red shoes are a symbolic thing that men are wearing just so they can experience even a fraction of pain that a woman, who has experienced abuse and violence in her life, has endured. So, it’s sort’ve a symbolic thing that men are saying ‘at least for one mile, I’m going to try and imagine what it feels like to be a woman.”
William Lownsberry, from Wolverine, Michigan, came to the Sault to participate in his 55th Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, and his first one in Canada. Losing a family member to domestic violence is part of the reason for these walks.
“We’ve experienced domestic violence in our family, back in 2001. I lost a sister-in-law to domestic violence. Her and her sister were gunned down trying to leave her abusive husband. So, here we are, doing what we can.”
Lownsberry said he’s walking for “all the victims out there. I want to let them know that this large group of people gathered here, they’re doing more than just say that they care – they’re backing it up by action.”
His message for victims?
“We’d like all the victims out there (to know), if you haven’t come forward and told your story, to do so. It moves you out of being a victim and moves you over to being a survivor.”
Nicole Vinette-Slukynsky is a survivor of rape. She said she was taking part of the walk “for anyone who’s ever been impacted by sexual assault and/or domestic violence. I’m also walking as a survivor, myself, of rape. It’s taken me 22 years to tell my story, but I’m hopeful that, in being here today, and sharing my story, I might be able to help others find their voice.”