Most Saturday mornings find the entrance of the University Mall quiet and empty of life. However, on Saturday, April 10, the parking lot of the mall was bustling with many people willing to brave the chilly morning for a good cause.
Many women feel safe nestled between the mountains here in “happy valley,” but living in this valley does not make the women here immune to the horrors of rape and sexual assault. Most fail to realize that the number of victims here are right in line with the national average.
One in four college women will be raped or sexually assaulted. And with many issues like this, one of the best ways to bring it to a halt is to raise awareness. This was the purpose of the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event: to raise awareness and stamp out rape and sexual assault in Utah Valley.
“This is the first year we’re doing this in Utah Valley; however it is a national effort, to create awareness about rape and sexual assault. It is a sensitive issue and we wanted to bring it to the front, and get people talking about it,” said Lindsee Anderson, a Community Health Major at UVU, who put the whole event together as part of an internship.
Just imagine a line of burley, strong men marching in high heels, holding signs boldly proclaiming their stance against rape. One man in stylish black heels and the beginnings of a dark beard held a sign that said, “I am man enough to walk in her shoes.”
“It’s really great when you get everyone there, it’s a powerful thing watching them walking, and holding their signs supporting the victims,” Anderson said. “There were people who are very passionate about this event, many who themselves or a family member have been affected by this issue.”
The participants paid a registration fee to take part in the walk, and the proceeds from the event went to the The Center for Women and Children in Crisis, in Provo, which functions with nearly half of its team as volunteers.
“This is so amazing to have everyone come out and take a stand to stop the violence that is happening in our communities and in our neighborhoods,” said Ronda Gates, director at the center.
Last year the center helped around 600 rape and domestic violence victims. Seventy-five to eighty percent of the victims were attacked by close acquaintances.
“We not only need women to stand up against rape and sexual assault, but we also need men to stand up and say it is not okay,” said Mindy Woodhouse, also with the center.
As a woman, it is comforting to know that there are men here in this valley who are willing to stand up against violence; it’s comforting to know that there are men who are man enough to walk a mile in her shoes.