EL CENTRO – Teetering in high heels, a large group of confident, self-assured men strolled down West Main Street in El Centro Friday for this year’s annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes march to highlight sexual abuse awareness.
The march, organized by the Imperial Valley Sure Helpline Crisis Center, is an event that has been held in the valley since 1971 and has grown in size each year. The mapped out route had the men walking from the steps of the courthouse to the town square in Downtown El Centro while wearing the heels — all in an effort to show support for abuse victims and to start conversations about sexual assault.
According to Adelaida Ibarra, the lead applicant for the march, the Crisis Center had 28 men volunteer for the march and 40 bright red, 3 ½-inch heeled shoes were ready for them. Twenty agencies were also stationed at the end of the march with support information against abuse.
“We want the community to know that if they have someone or have been a victim, it’s okay to talk about domestic violence,” said Ibarra.
Agencies from around the Imperial Valley volunteered for the march in an effort to support the cause such as the US Border Patrol, the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office, the Imperial Regional Detention Center, and other non-profit groups and community volunteers.
“We work with the Crisis Hotline and wanted to help out, plus I wanted to give back to the community and I think it is a great cause,” said Imperial Regional Detention Center Warden John Rathman.
“We want to show we support assault victims no matter what uniform we’re in,” said Justin Bostic, a senior deputy Sheriff. “Shoes, boots, or high heels, we’re here for them.”
For Manuel Avilez, a volunteer from El Centro, it is something to do to support his whole family.
“I love my wife and if anything like that were to happen to her I would want to do something about it,” said Avilez.
Of course many men were sore and wobbling on unsteady feet by the time the march finished, but they were still smiling.
“My respects to women!” said Roger Gariby, another community volunteer, after the march. “We didn’t know it would take this much to do it!”[envira-gallery id=”76163″]