No means no, but sometimes it is ignored and sexual assault occurs. In fact, 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The goal is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent it.
One event that brings the issue front and center locally is the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County’s participation in the international event Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, which is planned for Friday, March 25 at 7 p.m. at the Capital Encore Academy in downtown Fayetteville. It not only raises awareness, it is a lot of fun and also helps local victims of sexual assault.
“This is our one big fundraiser of the year and we have the event right before the month of April starts as a kick-off for sexual assault awareness month,” said Marilyn Brooks, president of the board of directors of Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County. “The men will wear red high heels and walk to support the victims of sexual violence.”
Brooks added that men and boys of all socio-economic levels and ethnicities are making a very powerful statement about women because women are the most frequent victims of sexual assault.
The walk begins at the Capital Encore Academy and continues straight down Hay Street. It ends at the AIT building.
“We will have a reception at the AIT building after the walk,” said Brooks. “Awards will be presented in various comical categories such as the man who showed his most inner-woman award.”
The goal of the event is to raise $30,000. Charlie Baxley is a member of the committee and he is challenging his friends to sponsor him if they want to see him walk in red high heels.
“We would love to have a couple of really prominent men in the area do the same thing,” said Brooks. “We have not found anyone with that kind of courage yet.”
The Fayetteville Police Department will come in their uniforms and red high heels being led by Chief Harold Medlock.
“It is really a strong statement when you see a group of uniformed law enforcement folks making the statement that they support the victims of sexual violence,” said Brooks. “Deanne Gerdes, Gloria Medlock and I have worked very hard to make sure this event is a huge success.”
Last year Bethel AME Zion Church in Spring Lake brought a group of men to walk in support of the event and a group of women that cheered for them as they walked. “We are encouraging more people to come with their groups and bring their banners,” said Brooks. “We want everyone to come out and support the men as they walk.”
Sponsorships are needed for the event. Sponsorship starts at $500. The cost is $20 for the event and $25 if you need red high heels to wear for the walk. Registration begins at 6 a.m. For more information, call 485.7273.