Men to walk in high heels to raise awareness about domestic and family violence

Local men are going to show solidarity with women and families who suffer domestic violence.

The Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre is putting on their third annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes. The event showcases men walking in red high heels to raise awareness against family violence and raise money towards a good cause.

“It really started in the United States, so it’s an international men’s march to bring awareness to the issue of family violence and show solidarity against domestic violence,” said Cindy Yang, resource development coordinator at the Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre.

“We are excited for the people who are walking with us. We do ask for men in public positions to make a statement with us, the mayor, council, police officers, firefighters, and it’s rumoured Odie the dog might be able to make an appearance.”

The event is tied in with the Bonnyville Pontiacs home game on Friday against the Lloydminster Bobcats. Pontiacs players will don red laces to show their support.

The original mandate of the women’s shelter for women and children was escaping domestic abuse, but the Crisis Centre has grown into more, said Yang.

“We also have opened a 24-hour crisis line. Then people who are in crisis or are just looking for referrals or advocacy can call us and we’ll make sure they’re connected with the right people in the community.

“You don’t necessarily need to be in crisis to access our outreach team. They can connect with you and work with you depending on what is it you need support with, in addition to the community programming they offer,” said Yang.

Mayor Gene Sobolewski will be one of several town employees who will don the red heels.

“It raises issues and awareness to that importance of domestic violence. I look at that and I said ‘It’s okay to wear stilettos for an hour, hour and a half because I feel it’s very important to raise that the Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre do phenomenal work.’ It raises some funds for them and why not?” said Sobolewski.

If you wish to donate or pledge to a walker, you can donate at the Bonnyville Pontiacs game, call the Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre at 780-594-5095, or go to their website.

“Any donation of any size is really, really appreciated.”

Crisis Centre numbers way up

Cindy Yang says the Crisis Centre is seeing a big increase in the number of calls they receive. Yang says that calls are up 114 per cent from this time last year.

“I think part of that is building awareness and making sure that people know our services are here, and I think in this community as well we are seeing an influx of male callers. We’re speculating that they’re realizing our services might not just be for women and children. We’re offering support to anyone and everyone who wants it or who wants to have more information about what we offer,” said Yang.

Yang also speculates that the economic downturn could be a factor.

“Maybe there is some correlation in that aspect. When things are a little more stressful at home or financial position has shifted from what you’ve known, it may impact other aspects of your life, and that might drive you to get the support you need,” said Yang.

The Margaret Savage Crisis Centre expanded its outreach services to Bonnyville in 2016.