Revamping a historical tradition

Fundraising event to benefit local anti-violence programs

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“Violence is everywhere,” Kim Schnurr, a senior English literature and women’s studies major, said. “It is in every single city. Every community. It’s so prevalent that inevitably someone you know has likely been exposed to domestic violence or sexual assault. What’s even worse is that we don’t talk about it.”

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Schnurr, an intern at the UW-Eau Claire Women’s and LGBTQ Support Center, and others will join together to create awareness and show support for survivors of domestic violence.

The first annual Walk A Mile-Chippewa Valley fundraising event to benefit the Family Support Center and Bolton Refuge House begins at noon — with registration and check-in beginning at 11:00 a.m. — Oct. 26 at the Carson Park Pine Pavilion.

The Family Support Center offers individual and group counseling for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and hosts a 24-hour crisis line (800-400-7020). Bolton Refuge House offers advocacy and support for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, which also offer a 24-hour crisis line (855-526-5866).

The Family Support Center, Bolton Refuge House and the UW-Eau Claire Women’s and LGBTQ Resource Center organized the event. Lisa, a domestic violence advocate at the Family Support Center, where last names are not used to protect workers, said she had been looking into hosting the event for a couple years.

Walk A Mile In Her Shoes is an international men’s walk, where historically, men walk a mile in heels to show support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

In creating Walk A Mile-Chippewa Valley, Lisa said she and other organizers dropped the In Her Shoes title to be more inclusive to all identities and also to help debunk the stereotype that only women are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“You can walk in high heels if you want to but you don’t have to,” Lisa said. Along with inclusivity, when planning the event, Jeni, the domestic violence program director at the Family Support Center, said they wondered how they could respect the people who have been affected by domestic violence without making the event sad.

“Our clients certainly come from some really terrible situations,” Jeni said. “But also are so inspiring because of everything that they have overcome to get where they are.”

Community involvement in the Walk A Mile-Chippewa Valley event shows survivors that they have a community of people who care about what is happening to them, Jeni said.

Schnurr said she is excited to see all the walkers come together for one cause.

“It rekindles your hope in people,” Schnurr said. “As someone who hopes to work as a victim’s advocate in the area of gender violence, it helps me to believe in myself and what I dream of doing.”

Participants are encouraged to pre-register, although same-day registration will be available. Pre-registration is $20 for adults and $10 for students, with prices going up $5 the day of the event. Youth participating with an adult are free.

“We need to talk about violence in order to solve it,” Schnurr said. “An event such as Walk A Mile gets that conversation started with active involvement from the community. It’s a literal step towards ending the violence in our home, in our community and in our society.”