Male Newport News Deputies March a Mile in Women’s Shoes to Stop Rape
There was an interesting group of people walking around the City Center Fountain in Newport News on Saturday April 4th. Several dozen men wore women’s shoes for a benefit. The Center for Sexual Assault Survivors held its 3rd Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.
Among the walkers was Newport News Sheriff Gabe Morgan and nearly thirty male deputies. The deputies were in full uniform with the exception of their footwear. It was a sight to behold — uniformed deputies in pumps walking laps around the fountain.
The Center for Sexual Assault Survivors is the only rape crisis center serving the Peninsula. More than $3000 was raised at this year’s event, $2000 of which came directly from pledges raised by deputies. Walk a Mile in Her Shoes was sponsored by the Newport News Sheriff’s Office (NNSO) and the Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office Victim Services Unit. This was a playful way to draw attention to a serious subject. By participating in the event, men took a stand against sexual assault and violence against women.
Shawna Gray, the Executive Director for The Center, said her organization specifically chose to hold the walk at the fountain, “Yes, and it was wonderful. City Center alone, just the name – ‘city’ ‘center’. We are in the middle of everything. So we figured it’s a wonderful location. There’s always traffic going through here.”
“I have never experienced anything like this,” laughed Sergeant D. Sullivan, NNSO. “I have a new respect for women who wear heels. Right now my legs are shaking.” Deputy S. Marler agreed, “It is very uncomfortable.”
The consensus of all the men who marched, however, was the temporary discomfort was worth it.
Sheriff Gabe Morgan, with pant legs rolled up, showing off a pair of classic black pumps said, “When you think about the concept of walking a mile in her shoes, you ask yourself, ‘What does a woman experience?’ It speaks volumes about the deputies who can find the humility to come out here and do this for a worthy cause.”
There were walkers from Christopher Newport University, CSB (Community Services Board), civic organizations, even men who walked-up and registered the morning of the event just because it looked like fun. The crowd of spectators were elevated in spirit by the spectacle. They couldn’t help but smile, laugh and cheer.
Gray said she looks forward to the event growing in size, “What we’d like to see is teams from area community organizations, you know the Boy Scouts, the YMCA, even retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s. We’d like to see teams come out and participate.”
Sheriff Morgan made a challenge of his own, “We (the NNSO) put the challenge out there to the fire department, police department, EMS, all the public safety personnel to join us next year and walk a mile in her shoes.”
The Center for Sexual Assault Survivors provides support and treatment for those whose lives have been disrupted by sexual violence. The center also works with the community toward reducing sexual violence through education and awareness. Services are confidential and free.