Safenet Staff: sexual assault advocate, Sylvia Starr and development specialist, Alexandra Seifried.
By, Macy Goodnight; March 2019: The statistics of sexual assault in the United States are staggering. One in five women and one in 71 men are raped at some point in their lives. Awareness is the key to prevention.
Walk A Mile in Her Shoes® is an annual event hosted by Safenet Services, Inc. to bring awareness to the subject of sexual assault and to encourage victims to seek help. In its ninth year, the event’s focus is to gather the community together and promote understanding and education on what sexual assault is and how it impacts women’s lives.
Safenet is a light in the dark for victimized women in Rogers and Mayes counties, providing services for the healing of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Sylvia Starr is the Sexual Assault Advocate, and she aims to identify victims and survivors of assault and provide them with the support they need to move forward. “Starting the journey to heal can be difficult because victims feel so much shame and guilt, and some believe it is their fault,” said Sylvia. “We first start by believing. When the victim is ready to start their healing journey, we start to work on who they are, and help to identify their worth and empower them to know their value.” Support groups are available, as well as counseling and assistance with safety and shelter. “I feel it’s an honor to be able to help these women and help them begin their journey of healing,” Sylvia said.
Walk A Mile in Her Shoes® began as a men’s walk to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence. Despite the seriousness of the topic, the event was coordinated as a playful opportunity for men to raise awareness in their communities about the serious causes and effects of men’s sexualized violence against women. The saying goes, “to understand a person’s experience, you have to walk a mile in their shoes.” The walk encouraged men to literally walk a mile in women’s high-heeled shoes.
In Claremore, all are welcome to dress up and walk the mile. Alexandra Seifried, a Development Specialist for Safenet, is the event coordinator. “Sexual assault is more prevalent than most people realize, and it can happen to anyone,” she said. “This event is a fun way to get the community involved in bringing awareness by dressing up and walking for these women."
Participants are encouraged to dress up in the symbolic colors of red or teal, and could include high-heel shoes, tutus or even boas! Main Street Merchants on the downtown Claremore mile walk show support at storefronts with red balloons. Signs can be carried to show support as well. “The biggest impact of this event is what the observers see, to provide understanding to why we are walking,” said Sylvia.
Walk A Mile in Her Shoes® will take place April 6, 2019, at 10 a.m. Participants will meet at Claremore Gazebo Park at Weenonah and Will Rogers Boulevard. Though registration is free, there is a $15 suggested donation. Tickets include a Walk shirt, hot dog, chips and drink. The first 100 to register will receive a T-shirt at no cost. A popular element to the event is a pet parade and Red Shoe Runway competition. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash and have current immunizations. Groups are encouraged to register as a team! Award categories include best dressed, the team with most raised money, and group with the most walkers. To find out more about the nationwide Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® initiative, visit www.walkamileinhershoes.org.
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