Spotlight on Domestic Violence with Walk a Mile in Her Shoes


October 22 — Amy Epperson attends the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event each year, which raises awareness about domestic violence and local resources to help victims because she has been a victim of it before.

“This event is amazing because it raises awareness about domestic violence,” and the Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center “has helped me in the past,” Epperson said. “I want to give back, (because) I’m a survivor, and I’m proof that there is help” available.

The Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center, a nonprofit organization that helps victims of domestic violence, serves Whitfield, Gordon and Murray counties and provides services to women, men and children. The center hotline can be reached at (706) 278-5586.

“One myth is that you have to stay in the shelter to receive services,” but that is not the case because outpatient assistance is available in all three counties, said Natalie Johnson, associate professor of criminal justice at Dalton State Middle School. “There’s also the national hotline, (800) 799-7233”, the chat feature on the National Domestic Violence website ( and the text feature (text “START” to 88788).

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Walk a Mile in Her Shoes attendees are encouraged to wear high heels to gain insight from a women’s perspective, although it is essential to remember that men and boys are also victims of domestic violence, said Johnson, who teaches courses in family violence and victimology. “Domestic violence is not just physical, but sexual, psychological and financial.”

A quarter of women and 1 in 9 men are victims of domestic violence and stalking, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. About 20% of students say they’ve been assaulted by an intimate partner, and almost a third admit to having assaulted their partner at some point.

Often, finances are a barrier for a victim leaving a domestic violence situation because they are “dependent” on the abuser, Johnson said. Even those who leave are not always safe, as about 75% of the women killed each year by intimate partners in America are “either leaving or have already left.”

“We can’t forget the kids either,” she said. In 2019, nearly 2,000 children died of child abuse and neglect in the United States, and “that’s almost certainly underestimated.”

Georgia is in the top 10 states for most domestic violence homicides, and abusers are often “charming, charismatic and generous” at the start of relationships, with the abuse beginning later and in subtle ways, she said. declared. It can eventually progress to physical abuse, but psychological abuse can be worse, because “bruises and cuts can heal, but not mental injuries.”

Another pernicious impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been an increase in domestic violence due to “isolation,” said Epperson, a member of the board of directors of the Family Crisis Center. “It’s a lot easier to hide when you’re not going out.”

For the past decade, the center has sponsored the annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event in Whitfield, Gordon and Murray counties, and the Dalton State College Criminal Justice Club, Lambda Alpha Epsilon, has hosted the event on campus for several years.

“This year we broke our record for the most (money) ever, $ 1,600, and that doesn’t count all sponsorships,” Johnson said. “It’s just the professors, staff and students of Dalton State, and members of the community.”

Rookie Emma Roerdink attended the event for the first time on Tuesday, brought in by her cousin, Esther James, a junior, she said: “I wanted to support this cause.”

Roerdink and James were decked out in purple outfits on purpose to attract attention on campus so they could raise awareness, answer any questions and encourage donations, the latter said. “We thought we would go strong.”

James learned of the event through his sociology class taught by Johnson, and she believes raising the issue of domestic violence on college campuses is crucial.

“According to statistics, a lot of the people we see in class” are in domestic violence relationships, so it’s important “that they know they have a voice,” she said. “They can talk to a friend, a teacher or a counselor.”

“I feel like there’s still that stigma, though,” around domestic violence and intimate partners, she said. “People are still scared.”

“It’s one of the reasons I want to be a therapist,” said the psychology major. “I want to end this stigma, but I also want people to feel comfortable talking ‘here and now.

A lot of young people “go through it, but maybe they don’t know it’s wrong unless people talk about it,” said Criminal Justice Major Caitlen Troglin, who attended the event for the first time Tuesday and hopes to someday work for the Georgia Bureau. of the investigation unit on trafficking and exploitation of human beings. “It’s one of those taboo topics that people don’t talk about.”

As Dalton State’s deputy director for student conduct and title IX deputy coordinator, William Mast often faces issues like those brought to light on Tuesday. heels, he said. “It gives (people) an image to see to connect everything.”

And he found his red heels from a source one might not expect, he said with a laugh.

“I bought them from a drag show site, because I wanted to be my size.”

Second-year student Chase Hornsby wished he had thought more about the size of the shoes with his heels, which he borrowed from a friend.

“My toes stick out,” he said with a chuckle. “My feet hurt.”

His participation was not a joke, however, as combating domestic violence and domestic violence is the goal of his brotherhood, he said.

“I am the president of Alpha Kappa Lambda”, and the philosophy of the fellowship is “These hands don’t hurt”, which pledges not to use their hands to hurt someone through sexual assault or domestic violence.

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