Well-heeled take up cause for victims of domestic abuse

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2011

More than 150 men from across Southwest Louisiana strutted their stuff in women’s high heels to raise awareness about domestic abuse.

Men walked a mile through the Prien Lake Mall as a protest against rape, sexual assault and domestic violence.

Most of the men said they agree walking in women’s shoes is not as easy as it looks.

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Robert Smith, who had one heel decorated to resemble a dog and the other a fish, said walking a mile in pumps was painful.

“We had a lot of fun with this. The ladies in my office decorated my shoes because my hobbies are my fish and my dogs,” Smith said. “These things hurt, though. It was a lot harder to walk in them then I thought it would be. It took me a minute to get used to standing in them, but I think this is an important cause for us to draw attention to because it doesn’t get as much attention as it should.”

Unlike the rest of the men, Paul Hutchens wanted to know when the second lap was.

“My feet don’t hurt, yet. I’m ready for another lap,” he said. “To get all these men out here participating is great — it’s really good to be a part of this.”

Dominick Gaeta said he came to march and recognize the situation of abuse in our area and stand up for abused women.

“They aren’t easy to walk in. I think I have some blisters,” Gaeta said. “I have this red jacket, and I wanted to match my ensemble, so I painted them red and put some glitter. They kind of look like Dorothy’s shoes — no place like home — because for some women home isn’t a good place.”

For Joey Lalonde and his family, the protest was personal. Lalonde said his sister was the victim of abuse 25 years ago.

“I wish there were more events like this in the area. It was really a good event, he said.”

Lalonde developed his own technique to walk a mile in heels.

“They were pretty difficult at first, but once I got used to them, they weren’t so bad,” he said. “You just have to stay on the fronts of your feet to walk.”

Geno Iafrate won the award for best shoe with his high-heel leather boots decorated with playing cards, feathers and dice.

“I really wanted some high leather boots,” he said. “So, my idea was to get the biggest boots I could find, and then I left the creativity up to the ladies at L’auberge that made them as uncomfortable as possible. I think there was a bit of payback involved in the fact that they wear heels every day to work.”

Sulphur provisional police Chief Mel Estess said the march helps people realize that it’s not only walking a mile in her shoes, but imagining what a victim of abuse goes through daily.

“It was hard, but it’s an example of the hardness and the road these victims of abuse walk for years and years and sometimes a lifetime, not only a mile,” he said. “I feel it in my calves, and I even went on the safe side and got wedges. I didn’t know what wedges were, but that was supposed to be a safe bet.”

Morami Engler, advocate and administrative assistant for Rape Crisis Outreach, said they were pleased with the number of people who came out to support the event.

“It wasn’t about the funds being raised, but to create awareness. The money raised is going right back into the community and into the organizations for sexual assault and domestic violence, and so we can make this happen again next year,” she said.

Engler said nearly $10,000 was raised through the march.

“This is so important for the awareness aspect of it because abuse isn’t a topic that’s talked about much,” she said. “It’s something that needs to be mentioned in our society and community so that men, women and children can come out and feel safe in their communities and know that we are there for them with open arms and a kind heart to take that scare away from them.”