~ Kristine Irwin
Imagine this. You wake up in a hospital bed, and you have no idea why you are there. You turn to a nurse, and you say, “What am I doing here?” They turn to you and say, “Because you were raped.” What would you do if this was you or a friend telling you this story?
Take a moment and put yourself in that person’s shoes…with the organization called “Walk a Mile Her Shoes,” you can.
Walk a Mile in her Shoes is an organization that was founded back in 2001 by Fred Baird. This event takes the saying, “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Its primary focus is men putting on women’s shoes and walking a mile in hope of bringing an end to sexual violence. Today, WaMiHS is a worldwide event with over 100 events taking place during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. It has also expanded to where women also Walk the Mile as well to show that sexual violence knows no boundaries.
Pittsburgh, where I reside, did not have a Walk a Mile Event until 2015. I first heard about the event when PAAR, Pittsburgh’s Action Against Rape, reached out to me to be the keynote speaker. Through correspondence, I was able to meet the amazing Camille Goleb.
Camille moved to Pittsburgh a few years ago and found that Pittsburgh is a city she absolutely loves. After sitting down with her, I was able to gain some insight about her thought process on this event and why she organized it.
Camille had previously participated in Walk a Mile in Her Shoes during college, where the campus police would participate in the event. She was able to partake in the walk twice.
Once she moved to Pittsburgh and realized that this event had not yet taken place in the city of steel, she wanted to take action and began formulating on how to organize it. Camille choose the date of September 12th and had the event kick off around 6PM. She was able to get sponsors, bands, raffle prizes and had t-shirts made. Many shoes were donated for the men participating. All the money raised from the event was then donated to PAAR. Camille chose PAAR because it is the only Rape Crisis Center in Allegheny County and she felt that all money raised would be donated entirely to the cause.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is such a great statement to get the word out about sexual violence. Camille says that she gets frustrated when people focus on protecting yourself in order to prevent sexual violence. The event truly can make a impact on our society by changing views from victim blaming, and shaming to giving hope to survivors and starting a conversation that educates our culture which includes learning what consent truly is.
When I sat down with Camille and discussed the event, she mentioned some of the negative comments that she had seen on social media about it. She then said that every event is not perfect, but this event does not exclude anyone. As mentioned above, sexual violence knows no boundaries and Walk a Mile can attest to that.
I must say that I have to give a major shout out to Camille for standing up for what she believes in and making a loud proclamation to take a step to end sexual violence. It is truly inspiring and I hope she continues to bring the event back every year.
Thank you, Camille!