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Haven depends on those willing to walk an extra mile ... in her shoes

Men wear high heels in support of raising awareness of sexual abuse during the 2016 Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.
Men wear high heels in support of raising awareness of sexual abuse during the 2016 Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event. jwestberg@modbee.com

Imagine having to surreptitiously gather birth certificates and social security cards for yourself and possibly your children in the dead of night.

Imagine having your whereabouts monitored via your cell phone without your knowledge or consent.

Imagine having to account for any every penny you’ve spent (even for groceries) and being told not to call, visit or even email your friends or family members.

If you can imagine these things, you can also imagine why such a situation would be intolerable. These are part of the plague of domestic violence. Unfortunately, no city – including Modesto and every other city around it – is immune. There are victims of domestic violence in our midst. And many need help to break free of this often hidden violence.

That’s where Haven’s Fourth Walk A Mile In Her Shoes fund-raising event comes in. It will be on April 29 through downtown Modesto, starting at the Gallo Center for the Arts. Men are being to asked to walk a mile. In high heels.

Money raised by this event goes to help fund Haven, which assisted 3,000 domestic violence survivors and their families last year alone.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that “an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute” in America. That means there are more than 10 million victims of abuse in our nation each year.

Many of those in such situations suffer incredible beatings and violence as well as isolation from family and friends. But it’s not just the physical injuries that ruin lives. Once they find the courage to leave a violent relationship, many victims have nowhere to go. Others are in dire fear for their lives.

That’s where agencies such as Haven play an integral role. Haven has been on the front lines, providing refuge from domestic violence victims since 1977. It has helped those who are most vulnerable in myriad ways.

Because victims often flee with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, Haven’s services are free. There is no financial burden for the help victims receive in obtaining restraining orders, counseling and education programs for children up to the age of 18. Haven has offered a wide array of services to those suffering violence, those who have been prostituted or used by sex traffickers, trans-women and men and abused immigrants and children who have been harmed – physically and psychologically – by violence in their homes.

The funds are desperately needed so Haven can continue to provide support and resources for clients and their families.

The walk has always been a way for men to show solidarity with this mission. This year, women will be able to sign up to walk, either individually or in teams. However, only male registrants will be provided with red shoes as a symbol of increasing awareness around Haven’s mission and as a catalyst for individual empowerment and societal change.

Haven’s target is to raise at least $75,000. Registration forms and information are available at www.havenwalkamile.org or by calling Haven at 209-524-4331.

Kathleen Rowe-Glendon is a former Bee visiting editor and a community activist. Email columns@modbee.com.

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