SKOWHEGAN — David White pulled off a pair of duct-taped red high heels and pulled on his leather motorcycle boots Saturday morning.
“I can’t imagine wearing those things all day,” he said, resting on a railing outside the Skowhegan Chamber of Commerce building.
The Fairfield resident, 54, was one of about 20 people, including six other men in high heels, who walked a mile-long route Saturday morning in downtown Skowhegan to raise awareness about domestic violence.
The Second Annual Walk A Mile in Her Shoes event was organized by the Family Violence Project, an advocacy and support group based in Augusta. Participants were encouraged to wear purple or red heels to show their support. Purple is the color of anti-domestic violence advocacy and red is the color of awareness, said Nancy Provost, one of the organizers of the walk.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women. They also estimate that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
Last year a Dexter kindergarten teacher, Amy Lake, and her two children were killed by her husband, Steven Lake, who then committed suicide. Lake had reported her husband to the police for threatening and domestic violence in 2010 and had filed a protection-from-abuse order against him. They were undergoing divorce proceedings when he shot his family.
“The walk is a chance for men to stand out and speak out,” said Nan Bell, a community educator for the project who also helped organize the walk. “Not that men can’t also be victims of domestic violence, but the heels represent the fact that high-heeled shoes can be quite uncomfortable for women, as is domestic violence.”
“I have a greater respect for everyone who wears these things,” said White, who is also a supervisor for adult protective services at the Department of Health and Human Services in Augusta. He sat rubbing the sides of his feet after finishing the walk, which started outside the Skowhegan Chamber of Commerce, went past the old jail and district court house and up Main Street.
“Unfortunately, domestic violence is something that happens all the time and is hugely underreported,” he said.
The Family Violence Project, which began in 1978 and will be celebrating its 35th anniversary next year, has offices in Skowhegan, Waterville and Augusta. The agency will be holding a number of other events, including fundraisers at local restaurants, during October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“This walk is about empathy and showing solidarity,” said Deborah Shepherd, executive director of the project. “Community involvement is the only way to get to zero tolerance. It’s great to see these men taking responsibility and accountability.”
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368