Students Invited to “Walk in Her Shoes”
One of 126 walks organized for 2008, “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” is an international men’s march against rape, sexual assault and gender violence.
According to Robert Buelow, the Violence Prevention coordinator with the UCI Police Department, the program is in recognition of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month and is geared toward raising awareness of domestic violence in America. He believes that “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” can help shed light on everyday domestic violence and the responsibility everyone has to prevent it.
Buelow explained that many of the men wore heels as they took part in this walk. Recognizing the fact that not all women wear heels at all times, some of the men wore heels regardless.
“The heels represented socially constructed gender roles, and men are making a statement by stepping out of gender role oppression,” Buelow said.
Guest speaker Robert Diaz, introduced by Clinical Social Worker Karolina Soriano, expressed his thoughts on the words “domestic violence.” Mentioning that he was always reminded of the television show “Cops” because of the violence, he defined domestic violence as “any abuse between two people sharing an intimate relationship.” He also addressed the prevalence of domestic violence in comparison to the number of people who are aware of it.
Diaz informed the public of a hotline where people who believe they are being abused can call. Last year, the hotline received 14,000 phone calls, 13,300 of which were made by females, suggesting that women are more often the victims in abusive relationships.
According to Diaz, violence occurs when a person maintains power and control in a relationship. He also pointed out how drugs and alcohol facilitate a person’s inclination to violence towards other people. Diaz listed the four types of violence: verbal, physical, emotional and sexual.
Diaz stated that violence is a learned trait. In his example, the abusive man in the relationship unconsciously adopted his father’s abusive characteristics. Diaz explained how parents can be large factors in their children’s lives through each and every action.
After Diaz finished his talk, Buelow led the walk around Ring Road. There were about 40 students who joined the walk, with a couple of people holding picket signs that said phrases such as, “It’s a men’s issue too!” and “Stop the violence!” Participants also chanted, “Break the silence, stop the violence,” “There’s no excuse for dating abuse” and “One, two, three four, we won’t take it anymore,” among other sayings.
As the walk continued, many students visited the information booth containing brochures for those who wanted more information about domestic violence. The information booth was also taking dollar donations for “Stop the Violence” bracelets. By the end of the event, CARE and the Office of Clinical Social Workers raised $500.
Buelow described the massive group of people walking around Ring Road as “powerful” in the sense that so many students were able to become aware of an important issue that occurs without us being aware of it.
At the end of the walk, groups that participated took pictures and took part in a raffle in which CARE and the Office of Clinical Social Worker sgave away gift certificates.
Satisfied with the turnout, Buelow concluded, “Prevention of domestic violence will only get better in the future.”