DANVILLE — Vermilion County men are invited to step into pair of high heels this spring and walk a mile — or attempt to — to raise awareness about and put an end to sexual violence.
The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event also aims to raise funds for the Vermilion County Rape Crisis Center in Tilton, which provides a 24-hour hot line; victim, legal and medical advocacy and counseling; and community- and school-based prevention education programs in the county.
"This is an event that men have participated in nationally and internationally to raise awareness about sexual assault and violence in their communities," Executive Director Nancy Crowder said, adding it takes the adage, "You can't really understand another person's experience until you've walked a mile in his or her shoes" literally. "Men really need to help bring this to the forefront, so we're hoping that a lot of them participate. We hope a lot of people come out and enjoy themselves and that this becomes an annual thing here."
The walk will be held on April 13 and begin in Temple Plaza, corner of North and North Vermilion streets in downtown Danville. The route is still being determined.
Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 10 a.m. The fee is $25 the day of the event, or $20 if you pre-register. The cost includes a T-shirt.
Registration forms are available at the center at 1630 Georgetown Road in Tilton or by calling the center at 446-1337.
Men can wear their own strappy sandals, stilettos or wedges, or they can borrow a pair of heels at registration.
"If they don't want to wear heels, they can wear their own shoes as long as they glam it up," Crowder said, adding men have been known to don dresses, wigs, makeup, jewelry and other feminine accessories at other marches. "And if they can't make the whole mile in heels, they can take them off and carry them."
Crowder said women also may participate, but they can wear tennis shoes.
All of the proceeds will go to the center, which has been providing services to victims of sexual violence in the county for 25 to 30 years.
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, nearly one in five adult women and 1 in 71 adult men reported experiencing rape at some time in their lives, and about 1 in 20 women and men experienced some other type of sexual violence or unwanted contact.
The survey also said 42.2 percent of female victims were first raped before 18, 29.9 percent were first raped between 11 and 17, and 12.3 of female victims and 27.8 percent of male victims were first raped when they were 10 or younger. Also a 2011 survey of high school students found that 11.8 percent of girls and 4.5 percent of boys grades 9-12 reported that they were forced to have sexual intercourse at some time in their lives.
In 2012, Crowder said the local rape crisis center received more than 200 crisis intervention calls and provided counseling and other services to more than 100 people ranging in age from two to 89. It also took its prevention-education programs such as body safety, internet and cellphone safety and health relationships to more than 6,000 area students.
For more information about the center, go to http://www.vcrapecrisiscenter.org .