10 Walk AwhileSexual violence is a heavy topic, and raising awareness is critical to changing the societal paradigms that allow it. Every year, the Rape Crisis Center of Cumberland County invites local men to participate in its fundraiser Walk Awhile in Her Shoes to raise awareness for this cause, but also to have some fun. For the men, it means donning fabulous red high-heeled shoes and walking through downtown. For the Cumberland County Rape Crisis Center, it means being able to help more people throughout the year. Walk Awhile in Her Shoes takes place Friday, March 23, from 7-9 p.m. in downtown Fayetteville.

“This is our annual fundraiser and a really cool way to raise awareness against sexual violence in our community,” said Deanne Gerdes, executive director at the RCCC. “We primarily deal with sexual violence; last year we had 538 victims that we served.”

The victims range from very small children to adults. “We serve a lot of our active duty soldiers,” said Gerdes. “Our services are a 24-hour crisis line, support groups, individual counseling – and we respond to the hospital and any law enforcement leads 24 hours a day and seven days a week.”

Gerdes added that oftentimes women in the military do not want to report or obtain any services on Fort Bragg due to it affecting their military career or them not trusting their command. If they receive mental health services, she said, they are often afraid of this affecting their security clearances.

When a victim reports a rape, the Rape Crisis Center gives them options. “We leave it entirely up to the victim and we give them options and resources,” said Gerdes. “We are led by the victim. Mainly we want to empower victims to make their own choices, such as reporting to law enforcement, receiving medical services or using military resources.”

The walk will be led by drummers from the Fayetteville State University Band. Goldie from WFNC, along with the command staff from the special victims unit of the Fayetteville Police Department, will also lead the walk.

The walkers consist of men from all walks of life. “We have hundreds of guys putting on their shoes and wobbling around, strutting and peacocking,” said Gerdes. “The majority of them say the shoes are the wrong size, and I tell them they are not the wrong size – that’s the way highheeled shoes feel.”

The walk starts at the Market House and ends at the AIT building.

“Come out and join this great, fun, family-centered event,” said Gerdes.

There will be a reception, including refreshments, at the AIT building after the walk as well as an awards ceremony. On-site registration begins at the Capitol Building at 6 p.m. Registration is $25 for walkers and $15 for students. If you want to borrow a pair of red shoes, the cost is $10.

For more information or if you are interested in becoming an advocate, call RCCC at 910-485-7273.

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