Last night, the Regional Crime Victims Crisis Center hosted "Walk a Mile In Her Shoes" to raise awareness to violence against women, sexual assault and such crimes. Most of our Mission Abilene staff participated (Anthony wimped out---oh, well actually, he was doing the dad thing instead so we'll excuse him this time...). It was a riot...all these macho men walking down the street in high heels and smiling about it! Terry even gave a grand gymnastic performance--he tried to somersault part of the way. Gymnastics weren't so great but he gets a 10 for getting up and finishing the walk in his pretty mint green summer sandals. The camaraderie between these men as they all did something together none would likely do alone was a sight to see...And an example of what it takes for women to overcome rape, sexual assault, molestation, or domestic violence. We overcome...we press on arm in arm with those who "walk" with us.
Last night was a light-hearted fun event with lots of laughs and even a humorous speaker with a significant message. And that's what it should be--an event that if fun but passes on a significant message. Of all the men in the "parade" last night, I know at least two men who participated who go above and beyond in protecting, supporting, and/or bringing justice to women and children who are victims...And there's absolutely no doubt there were a few more, though I don't know their names. In confirming the "invitation" to walk in heels, those two men undoubtedly agreed (Chad agreed for the whole staff. Lol!) with reverence to the women and child victims they have seen in their life and work experiences.
I wonder if each man who walked took a minute before, during, or after to recognize that as they walked or stumbled down the street in heels, they could put themselves in one woman's place--a woman who was raped, molested, beaten with either words or fists, burned, stabbed, shot, or murdered. Each man who stood in heels stood up for thousands of women who couldn't stand up for themselves. I wonder if those men realize how empowering that is for these women. When women live in abuse or hide in the shame of rape, they begin to think they deserve it or that it's "normal." And though we hear the right things from all the right people, there is something more we get when a man says with all emotion or heart that this is not right, it needs to stop, and most of all, that we don't deserve it.
I remember the first time a man (a gentleman in all sense of the word) showed anger toward violence against women or children. But even more, his frustration was more because I didn't realize I didn't deserve it. Honestly, I was totally stunned. I didn't understand it mattered so much before. I remember it so well because that very moment was my first glimmer of hope. He was significant because I respected him so much--I needed to hear it from someone I trusted. This was the moment I began to gain the courage and will to overcome the shame of it though I still had a long journey ahead. For years, I had heard all the right words from others about violence against women generally speaking. It was for everyone else, not for ME. I truly needed to hear this from one who had already proven he wouldn't give up on helping me believe in myself. And one who was seeking nothing to gain for himself...This man didn't give me sympathy or pity--he gave me first of all, respect--then strength, power, and most of all HOPE to be more than I believed I could be...
So for all of those men who walked last night...I give you my greatest respect and gratitude. Last night, through your actions, you said, "Wounded, abused, beaten woman...You don't deserve this." By your silent words but loud actions, you gave victims courage to stand up for themselves. You have given them a voice to speak out with hope. In my opinion, you are all men above other men (literally too, in your new shoes! Lol!) because you didn't just walk in high heels...You walked in high hopes that violence of any kind will stop. And more than anything, you gave that hope away to any woman--any victim--who is ready to step out of her shoes of shame into high hopes. That's worth much more than you know...May you be especially blessed!