Locals Walk a Mile in Her Shoes to raise awareness

Published 8:00 pm Monday, April 15, 2019

On Saturday, a small crowd of men and women marched in heels to raise awareness for gender violence, sexual assault and rape at Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.

Saturday marked the march’s second year in LaGrange and its first by Granger Park. The march was hosted by Harmony House Domestic Violence Shelter and LaGrange College Mental Health Counseling.

“It was very well attended, especially since there were so many different events going on this weekend, and I think it was a great way for us to have that conversation of engaging community members on sexual assault and talking about gender violence and rape and things of that nature,” said Lakae Ford, community educator and teen dating violence advocate for Harmony House. 

The purpose of the walk is to encourage conversation and understanding of sexual assault and what it means for those affected by it, while raising awareness for the resources available in the community.

“It is one of those hidden things that a lot of people don’t want to talk about,” said Michele Bedingfield, the executive director of Harmony House. “Out of being scared or ashamed for whatever reason, they don’t want to report or talk about sexual assault, and it is nice to have the community support around wanting to bring awareness to it. Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is just that. We had more people this year than we had last year, and it was well attended.”

Among those in attendance, were several members of local law enforcement as well as members of the community who offered their support. 

“Law enforcement was present [at the march],” Ford said. “They were able to participate in the walk. We had some from WellStar [West Georgia] Medical. Then, of course, we had several LaGrange College students who were able to come out as well.”

The event served as the end point for LaGrange College’s sexual assault awareness week, while expanding that message to cover the entire community. April is sexual assault awareness month. Ford said that the walk itself and the posters even raised awareness for those not taking part.

“We had a couple of people walk up like, ‘What are you all doing here today?’” Ford said. “We were happy to catch that traffic of people who were just kind of curious to see what was going on.”

Ford and Bedingfield said that the most important part of the event was letting people know that there are places to go and people who can help while showing bystanders how to help.

“I think it encourages people to talk about it,” Bedingfield said. “The more that we can do events like this, the more it becomes acceptable to talk about stuff. It encourages a bystander to step up and say something.”

Representatives from the Troup County Sheriff’s Office, LaGrange Police Department, LaGrange College and GetFed Inc. also took part in an informative video prior to the walk to raise awareness. 

The video can be found on Harmony House Domestic Violence Shelter, Inc.’s Facebook page.