Thursday’s blizzard conditions didn’t stop 25 true Minnesotans from taking a one-mile walk across HWY 169 in Elk River in support of sexual assault awareness month.
In fact, participants said the bad weather conditions made the walk even more meaningful as they saw symbolism between the weather and an abusive relationship.
“As we were walking, I was explaining to my staff how symbolic trudging through the snow really was to the internal conflict someone in an abusive relationship deals with, ” said Rivers of Hope program coordinator Stephanie Lahr. “They really don’t want to be in the situation, yet it’s hard to take that step to leave.”
According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, every day in Minnesota 18 people are victims of sexual assault.
Unlike last year’s event where participants donned high-heeled shoes in 70-degree weather, participants this year wore winter snow boots and donned umbrellas to block the slivers of ice falling from the sky.
The event, A Walk in Her Shoes, is designed to showcase men walking in women’s high-heeled shoes to characterize the old saying, “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked in their shoes.”
For years, women were seen as the only gender experiencing sexual assault; however, society is starting to recognize that both genders are victims.
At Thursday’s walk, both men and women from Minnesota School of Business, Elk River Maurice’s, Furniture and Things, and Rivers of Hope participated.
“We love doing anything community-related,” said Maurice’s site manager Joanna Arbic. “Rain, snow or shine.”
Walkers started from Minnesota School of Business and circled back after reaching the pedestrian bridge that crosses over HWY 169, just off Freeport Avenue.
All proceeds from the event were donated to Rivers of Hope, a local organization advocating against family violence.
To read the story about last year’s event, click here.