Sacred Heart University students, faculty and staff joined members of the greater Fairfield community April 27 for the seventh annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event in downtown Fairfield.
Men and boys participating in the event were tasked with walking in red high heels for the entirety of the mile-long walk. This symbolic act is done in an effort to urge communities to talk about gender relations and men’s sexualized violence against women.
Participants gathered at the Fairfield train station and walked to the Town Hall Green, where the event concluded with an award ceremony and speeches.
Speakers included Gary MacNamara, SHU’s executive director of public safety and government affairs; Deb Greenwood, president and CEO of the Bridgeport Center for Family Justice; Michael Tetreau, Fairfield’s first selectman; Tony Hwang, state senator; and Joe Ganim, mayor of Bridgeport.
“For me, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes opened my eyes to the issue of sexual violence and how it can negatively impact family life, especially in the case of children that are exposed to it in a household,” said Rachel Baily, a sophomore studying public health. “It also made me really proud to be a part of a school community that comes together to support such an amazing cause.”
The event was sponsored by the Fairfield Police Department and the Bridgeport Center for Family Justice. The Center for Family Justice is a community-based organization that provides free and confidential services to victims of sexual violence, domestic violence and child abuse. The center’s mission is to break the cycle of abuse and violence by providing services that create hope, restore lives and drive social change through education and community collaboration.
The walk concluded SHU’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, sponsored by the Office of Title IX and Public Safety. Highlighted events throughout the month included the White Ribbon campaign, which brought together the entire SHU community and local officials from surrounding areas to support the efforts of ending violence against women and girls.
Every Thursday throughout April, tables were set up in the 63’s hallway, providing information and awareness on topics such as consent, sexual assault/misconduct, healthy and unhealthy relationships and survivor support. One new event titled “What Were You Wearing?” exhibited outfits worn by victims, proving that clothing has nothing to do with sexual assault. Lastly, with the support of President John J. Petillo and the SHU community, National Denim Day, provided a call to action and many members of the campus came together by wearing denim as a visible sign of protest and a personal statement about ending sexual violence.