March lifts awareness of domestic violence

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Friday, October 26, 2007
— Take a 215-pound man. Put him in heels 3.5 inches high. That forces all the weight down onto the balls of his feet.

Oh, the pain.

That was me Thursday evening as I walked along Milton Avenue with 29 other courageous or crazy men, accompanied by a bunch of supportive and beaming women.

Beaming, because these men were experiencing what they feel every time they strap on their heels.

We had all pledged to walk a mile in heels—from the Janesville Mall to CK Bar & Grill—for a cause, Janesville’s first-ever Walk a Mile in Her Shoes march.

We were there to raise awareness about one of the ugliest facets in our society.

Allison Hokinson of the YWCA of Rock County addressed us just before we set out:

“What you’re doing here today is not only damaging your feet, but making a statement that we won’t tolerate violence in Janesville, Wisconsin.”

Oh, that everyone in town truly believed those words. Sure, we support the YW’s shelter for battered women and children. Sure, we’ve got laws that help women in these situations. But the violence continues, at a rate of nearly three instances a day in Janesville.

And those are just the attacks that are reported to police.

So when Hokinson called to ask whether I’d do it, I didn’t hesitate. This is a cause that I can back with no reservations.

I haven’t experienced domestic violence myself, but I’ve interviewed battered women and written their stories. And my wife once worked for a domestic violence shelter, so I’ve heard the stories she brought home.

The physical scars and the emotional damage to the women are bad enough, but consider what it does to a child to watch daddy smash mommy’s face.

Not to mention the violence that so many abusers visit on the children’s bodies.

If we could wipe out this plague, how far ahead would we be as a society?

So those are my thoughts. I was glad to do it, as were all those other men. And although I’ve got one heck of a crick in my back as I write these words, I know I’ll answer the call again next year.

But next year, I’m not running around with a notebook. If walking in high heels is a crime against nature, then running in heels is positively evil.

State domestic violence stats

In 2005, Wisconsin reported:

-- 15,149 victims of domestic violence between the ages of 18-39.

-- 7,140 victims aged 40 and over.

-- 66 percent of victims were female.

-- 66 percent of offenders were male.

-- 81 percent of the victims and offenders were in an intimate relationship.

-- 30 incidents involved homicide, including five murder-suicides, with 41 total deaths.

-- Janesville police responded to 1,062 domestic violence incidents.

Wisconsin participated in the National Census of Domestic Violence Services on Nov. 2, 2006. Forty-seven of the state’s 88 local domestic violence programs combined to report what happened that day:

-- 469 hotline calls.

-- 1,339 adults and children received domestic-violence related services.

-- 362 adults and children found refuge in emergency domestic violence shelters.

-- 219 adults and children were living in transitional housing programs designed for domestic violence survivors.

-- 758 adults and children sought non-residential advocacy and services such as individual counseling, legal advocacy, and children’s support groups.

—Statistics courtesy of the YWCA

For help

-- A toll-free, 24-hour number sponsored by the YWCA in Janesville is available at 1-800-750-7990.

-- A statewide program for the Latino community is available at (608) 256-9195.

To help

-- Rock County—YWCA Alternatives to Domestic Violence at (608) 752-5445 or the Beloit Domestic Violence Center at (608) 365-1119.

-- Walworth County—Association for the Prevention of Family Violence, (262) 723-4653.

Last updated: 12:34 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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