Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event to galvanize awareness

Proceeds to benefit Domestic Violence Survivors program

Staff writerJune 11, 2014 

Mental health providers at the MultiCare Good Samaritan Behavioral Health Domestic Violence Survivors program are asking the public to support its free counseling to women and children by walking a mile in the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.

The walk starts at 10 a.m. at the corner of 3rd Street and Meeker Avenue on Saturday, June 21, during Puyallup Main Street’s Meeker Days Festival.

“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes was originally an event to stimulate conversations about sexual assault, rape and gender violence,” said Christy Stapleton, a clinical therapist and lead organizer with Good Samaritan Behavioral Health. “We see the walk each year in Tacoma that is hosted by the (Pierce County) Sexual Assault Center and we thought, ‘Why not here?’ ‘Why not for domestic violence?’ It’s here. We need to talk about it. We need to call it for what it really is ... by its name, domestic violence. Our hope is to stimulate conversations, to call domestic violence crimes for what they are and not minimize the reality by using inappropriate labels. We want to share resources that hopefully lead to better interventions and ultimately, prevent.”

The pre-registration fee for the walk is $30 and Stapleton said that covers registration and “an amazing experience and a fun goody bag showing our thanks.”

Traditionally, the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes nationwide movement, which started in 2001 by Frank Baird, has adopted the red high heel to symbolize a woman’s shoe.

“Ultimately, the goal is to create a playful and fun way to ‘Walk a Mile in Her Shoes’ to open up conversations about gender/domestic violence,” Stapleton said. “First and foremost, we encourage everyone to be mindful of their comfort level and skill when picking out their shoes. After all, they will be walking a mile in them. Second, we are hoping that participants will wear their version of ‘her’ shoes.”

The Domestic Violence Survivors program relies on grants, donations and fundraising to pay for individual counseling by a master-level mental health clinician to women.

“We offer weekly an educational/therapeutic support group for women at the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center and Good Samaritan Behavioral Health and a Teen Dating violence educational group for teen girls currently offered in the Puyallup School District and Good Samaritan Behavioral Health,” Stapleton said.

Serving more than 300 women and children annually, the program has enough funds to provide approximately 60 hours a month for domestic violence services, Stapleton said.

“It goes without saying that there are several more hours a month that are donated because the needs are so high and the financial resources are tight,” Stapleton added. “We partner with the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center and have partnered with Exodus Housing to spread our resources out in order to serve as many survivors as we can. We are a very small program, hoping to someday expand.”

All of the proceeds from the walk will go directly to the domestic violence program to fund counseling, support groups and educational materials.

“Every dollar allows us to keep costs free to survivors,” Stapleton said. “Oftentimes women flee a situation with only the clothes on their back. The last thing we want them to worry about is how they are going to pay for help. Their focus should be their safety and health. I want to give every survivor the quality mental health support they deserve, and to do it with the least amount of barriers as possible.”

if you go

The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event will start at 10 a.m. at the corner of 3rd Street and Meeker Avenue in Puyallup on Saturday, June 21. Pre-registration is $30 and particpants can register at active.com. The fee is tax-deductible. For those needing the services of the Domestic Violence Survivors program, they can call 253-445-8120 or email at DVSURVIVORS@goodsamhealth.org.

Andrew Fickes: 253-552-7001 andrew.fickes@puyallupherald.com Twitter: @herald_andrew

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