As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Voice of Hope organization hosted the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes march on Saturday, April 27, in Safety City at Clapp Park.
Participants in the event donned high heels and walked a mile around the park to raise awareness of sexual violence in Lubbock.
Leslie Timmons, the education director for Voice of Hope, said this is the 12th annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes March, and the purpose of the event is to end sexual assault.
“It does exist, and it is a huge problem in Lubbock,” she said.
The march is an international event, but Voice of Hope was the first group to bring it to Lubbock, Timmons said.
She hopes the march sheds light on the number of sexual assault and sex trafficking cases that occur in Lubbock and lets people know this is a real issue that happens, she said.
“There were 396 cases of sexual assault in Lubbock last year, and 37 cases were sex trafficking cases,” she said. “It does happen, but we are the agency who provides free direct services for those victims.”
Kelsey Brewer, the sexual assault therapeutic counselor for Voice of Hope, said her job is to talk to victims of sexual assault or sex trafficking and anyone around them who was affected by that and offer guidance to them.
The march is important, she said, because it brings the communities of Lubbock and Tech together to work to raise awareness of sexual assault. The event helps people understand the realness and severity of the issue.
“Having something like this event that is this big to talk about something that is really taboo is a really big deal,” she said. “We are making it less difficult to talk about it.”
The event is also a fun, family-friendly environment, making it easier for people of all ages to understand what the event is about, Brewer said. With bouncy castles and people walking around in red high heels, it is an entertaining way to bring people’s attention to such a serious issue.
Brewer said she hopes the march makes it known that sexual assault happens in Lubbock, whether people want to talk about it or not.
“It’s something that is not going away,” she said. “To know that we are here in the community and have someone able to help victims and survivors is our main goal today.”
Robyn Armour, a sex trafficking survivor advocate at Voice of Hope, said her main job is to see anybody under her grant who is a survivor of sexual assault or sex trafficking and take care of those who are overlooked. Peer support is a primary part of her job as well – being there for survivors and helping them make better choices for their future.
Armour would hope if someone heard about this event who was either a survivor of sexual assault or knows someone who is would reach out and know there is someone out there who wants to help them and support them.
Sexual violence happens to 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men, Armour said, and it is a bigger deal in Lubbock than people may think, though they do not like talking about it.
“We don’t like to talk about rape in Lubbock, but it is a real event that hurts a lot of people,” she said. “The number one importance of this event is to raise awareness so it isn’t such a stigmatized thing.”