Footsteps to Eliminate Domestic and Sexual Violence: #WalkBlackburn

Carolyn’s Online Magazine   (#COMe)

FOOTSTEPS TO ELIMINATE DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE:

THE WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES EVENT IN GREENSBURG, PA

Picture this: About a thousand pair of feet marching along city streets taking footsteps to stop rape, sexual as assault and gender violence.

That’s exactly what happened at the 6th Annual Men’s March in Greensburg, Pennsylvania (#WalkBlackburn), on April 16, 2016, when a huge crowd of people converged on St. Clair Park under a warm sun and a blue sky.

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Each of the participating pair of feet was encouraged not only to take footsteps, but to raise their voice by speaking out against the social norms that perpetuate domestic and sexual violence.

This was the third time my husband Monte and I participated. We started in 2013, continued in 2014, but skipped 2015 because we were in Florida visiting Monte’s relatives.

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Blackburn Center Against Domestic & Sexual Violence

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I decided I’d ask random people why they joined the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event. Here were some of the responses before the program that would initiate the walk.

  • My girl friend and I, we come every year. Allen, Greensburg
  • We come every year, we sponsor the Men as Allies (against) Violence and sex abuse, our daughter organizes the booth. —Eddy Confer, Latrobe, University of Pittsburgh in Greensburg Her husband: We get drafted by our daughter —Wayan Confer, wearing a Viet Nam cap

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  • Eight or 9 years ago my aunt was murdered through domestic violence —AJ, Seton Hill football player.

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  • Just doing my part. It’s my 4th year. I come on my own but know a board member. My shoes are new—is that good or bad? Gotta wear stockings, too.  —Barry Shirey, Ligonier

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It was time to hear the speakers. Below are some of their comments:

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  • We need to learn not to conform to gender stereotypes, which affect us regardless of gender. No more objectification of women.
  • Put the responsibility to end violence where it belongs—on the perpetrator.
  • The Blackburn Center’s purpose is to put itself out of business by reducing domestic and sexual violence to zero. There is no way to do this without the help of men.
  • We need to pause a moment to honor those who’ve lost their lives through domestic violence.
  • We need to end all forms of gender violence.
  • Together we can and will reach this goal for Westmoreland County and beyond.
  • I am and we can be a voice for equality and respect for women.
  • Our first year (of this walk) met under a pavilion at Lynch field in rainy weather. Look about and see the crowd here today.
  • You’d be surprised how fast the Seton Hill Football members can move in high heels.
  • There’s no place for gender violence against those we feel are beneath us.
  • Homophobia is an abuse that has links to sexism.
  • We need the courage to look inward.
  • Some have pledged to walk a mile and then walk 2 miles.
  • Everyone read together the 10 things men can do to end the violence.

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During and after the walk I continued to ask participants why they were walking their mile ‘in her shoes.’

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  • I’m against violence for anyone whether it be emotional or physical violence. (an added attraction for Katie was that she is from Detroit, where Monte attended a sports event last Sunday—they had a good discussion about Detroit) —Katie, Seton Hill University student
  • Our kids brought it up from school. I’m wearing my wife’s sneakers, so I’m walking a mile in ‘her shoes.’ —Josh, Greensburg

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  • I work at Seton Hill, and do lots of work for gender violence. It’s also good for my sons. —Mathew, Monroeville, who walked with his wife Lauren and their 2 sons, James and Jacob. The youngest, 2 years old, completed the mile course without any assistance, and was ready to go to a playground after the event.

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  • I teach a senior seminar on happiness, and the students chose this walk as a social justice project. —Sister Ann Infanger, Seton Hill University

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Whether or not you attended the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event or not, you can work to end domestic and sexual violence. The beginning of the end begins with you in your own back yard.

Two Ligonier Valley residents walk

Two Ligonier Valley residents walk

I invite you to comment (in the comment box at the end of this post) on ways you are working to achieve the Blackburn Center goal of eliminating domestic and sexual violence, one footstep at a time.

For the men: sign the pledge to end gender violence.

NOTE: The WordPress writing challenge for March 26, 2016, is footsteps. 

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About carolyncholland

In several if my nine lives I have been a medical lab technician and a human service worker specializing in child day care, adoptions and family abuse. Currently I am a photo/journalist/writer working on a novel and a short story. My general writings can be viewed at www.carolyncholland.wordpress.com. My novel site is www.intertwinedlove.wordpress.com.
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One Response to Footsteps to Eliminate Domestic and Sexual Violence: #WalkBlackburn

  1. Pingback: Blackburn Center Fundraiser: April 2016 | Carolyn's Online Magazine

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