It’s a subject that has been changing the way students look at college campuses and society in general. To help bring the issues of sexual assault and rape to light, the Office of Diversity and held their third annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” on Thursday. The mile-long walk featured men in high heels demonstrating their commitment to end the issue of sexual violence at Longwood, as well as in general society.
Starting on Brock Commons and wrapping around the western border of the campus, the route was dotted with signs that showed the national statistics regarding rape and sexual assault. There was also a person walking alongside the men, honking a horn every 107 seconds representing the amount of time that passes between each sexual assault.
“I want you to take time to think and ponder about how often this is happening,” said Courtney Addison, the associate director of Diversity and Inclusion to the attendees.
She also pointed out that, despite the event being called “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” women are not the only victims of sexual assault and rape. She reminded the attendees that men are also victims, as well as members from the LGBT community. She felt that it is important to recognize that these groups are victimized as well.
She added, “We are walking for them as well…We’re walking for any victim or survivor of sexual assault.”
Also present was Elizabeth Chassey, the sexual assault program director from Madeline’s House, a domestic violence shelter in Blackstone, Virginia. Chassey explained that Madeline’s House helps survivors of sexual violence to “pick up the pieces” by offering counseling services.
Sophomore Cody Slaughter, who participated in the event, said that going downhill was much easier compared to uphill, which was “hard as hell.”
Slaughter felt that the biggest factor in getting him out to support the event was seeing the enthusiasm that everyone else had for it. Sophomore Brandon Brinsfield thought it would be a fun experience to come out and understand the purpose of the event.
Each man that participated in the event wore a sign with the number 107 (the number of seconds that pass between each sexual assault that takes place), as well as a phrase signifying what they walk to support. Slaughter’s sign said “the ones I love,” because many of the women that are close to him have been victims of sexual violence. Brinsfield’s sign said that he walked for “female equality,” because he was always raised to understand that “women should be equal to men, and should be treated with respect.”
Addison, the associate director of Diversity and Inclusion, was one of coordinators of the event. Before coming to Longwood, she was a big advocate for issues like this, so she was disappointed at the lack of events Longwood held compared to her previous institution. However, She was incredibly glad at the ever growing number of people who are taking interest in the event.
“The first year we had maybe around 30–35 people; the second year we had a round 50 people. This year… we had over 80 people show up for this year’s event,” said Addison
While nationally, 30 percent of sexual assaults are reported according to the signs on the trail, Longwood underperforms in this area and reports only 5 percent of its assaults.
This is improving, according to Addison, particularly marked by Jen Fraley “taking over the Title IX position, and really making the reporting process more streamlined, there has been a large increase in the amount of students that are reporting.”