Domestic violence and sexual assault are crimes that can hide in the shadows.
But the bright red high heels worn Thursday by the men who participated in the second annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event could not be ignored.
That was sort of the point.
College of Coastal Georgia hosted the event to bring attention to domestic violence, sexual assault and other forms of gender violence. College nursing students and athletes hobbled in heels alongside local law enforcement officials and other community members who took part in the walk.
“We are here today to honor those women who are survivors or who have lost their lives to domestic violence, or any type of violence,” said Thearon Filson, administrative assistant in the college’s Student Health Center and organizer of the event.
Along the walk around campus was a line of 149 pairs of shoes. Each pair represented a life lost in Georgia in 2017 due to domestic violence.
“I look at these 149 pairs of shoes scattered around the campus, and it’s just such a visible kind of reminder of the people and the real situations,” said Michelle Johnston, president of the college.
The college offers numerous resources for support, including free counseling and sexual assault prevention training, Johnston said. Other community partners who sponsored the event Thursday included the Glynn Community Crisis Center, the Connie Smith Rape Crisis Center, Faithful Love and House of Hope, both of which serve victims of sex trafficking.
Before the men in red heels gathered to begin their symbolic walk around the campus — which ended with several men running the final stretch across the finish line — Glynn County Police Chief John Powell encouraged everyone in attendance to play their own role in eradicating domestic violence in this community.
“If you know somebody that’s involved in a relationship, whether it’s a male or female, that’s going south, try to be a friend,” Powell said. “Try to guide them to the right direction. Try to get them some help. Most of all, just don’t turn a blind eye to it.”
Domestic violence incidents have taken lives in Glynn County, Powell said, and have affected children and broken up homes. He said police hope to offer services immediately to those who need it, but the community plays a part in preventing this violence.
“All of us have a part to play, and I’m asking for your help,” Powell said. “If you see something, say something. Pick the phone up and call. Let somebody know.”