Ruth’s Cottage and The Patticake House hosted its 8th annual Walk-A-Mile in Her Shoes awareness event at ABAC. The walk is a nationally registered trademark event that brings awareness to domestic and sexual violence committed against women by men.
Established in 2001, many organizations across the US have taken to adopting their own version of the event. The most recognized portion of the event consist of men signing up to walk a mile in high heel shoes.
The purpose is to show a symbolic act of solidarity in which the participants understand their role in a society dictated by patriarchal roles. Though the act is lighthearted, it’s an attention catching way to spread a message. The men who walk are expected to honor a pledge that ensures that they recognize how they participate and benefit in a culture that creates the issue of gender-based violence.
A total of 36 men participated in the walking portion of the events. The majority was composed of (men from three teams, including members of the ABAC baseball team, ABAC College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), and Tifton Fire Department. Volunteers from the CAMP program members and Ruth’s Cottage staff worked together to ensure the event’s success. They supported the men as they completed laps around ABAC Circle, holding signs and offering words of encouragement.
After the walk, awards were given out. Ben Rehberg was awarded the individual trophy. Lieutenant Justin Bailey was awarded with the Turner County Sheriff’s Office for their contributions.
Tifton’s first Walk-A-Mile event occurred in October of 2010. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a key time for Ruth’s Cottage to spread awareness as they host various events. Main Street and the Tifton Harely Davidson dealership were home to the event’s first few years, but eventually moved to ABAC in 2014.
Misinformation and limited representation in media serve as a barrier preventing people from recognizing that they can be affected, and that there are resources that will help them. For many college students, they juggle a variety of struggles, often failing to recognize these sorts of issues since they often do not think that they are capable of being affected and/or capable of perpetuating abusive behaviors.
Nancy Bryan encourages college students to talk to their friends and start conversations about difficult topics. She believes in the importance of small-scale acts such as checking on friends and taking notes of any potential warning signs, including those that are not as evident as physical abuse.
The non-physical signs such as constant texting, isolating partner away from friends and family, avoided eye contact are often some common predecessors to the more violent aspects of an abusive conversation. Nancy Bryan describes abuse as being like “walking on eggshells” which may make it harder for hesitant victims to confide in others.
She also stressed the importance of knowing that the hotline is also available for people who are not in an immediate crisis. Callers can receive resources and referrals from trained advocates who will keep their information confidential. If an ABAC student contacts Ruth’s Cottage, they reserve the right to decide what information to reveal, even if connected by campus officials or law enforcement. Information provided to advocates is not shared with other entities. After contacting the hotline, ABAC students can learn about the various service and programs offered by Ruth’s Cottage.
The Tifton Judicial Circuit Shelter Inc. as a whole is made up of:
The Ruth’s Cottage Domestic Violence Prevention Program (established in 2002) provides confidential services for victims of domestic violence such as emergency shelter and assistance with temporary protection orders.
The Patticake House/Children’s Advocacy Center (established in 2005) provides forensic interviews and supportive services for children who may have endured or witnessed physical abuse, sexual abuse, and family violence.
The Sexual Assault Advocacy Program (established in 2018) provides confidential services for victims of sexual assault such as hospital accompaniment and relocation assistance.
The Latino Outreach Program (established in 2021) which provides confidential services for victims of the Spanish speaking community such as personal advocacy and emergency room response.
For more information about Walk-A-Mile or the services offered by Ruth’s Cottage and the Patticake House, visit stopthehurtga.org or email Nancy Bryan at email@example.com