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April 23, 2013
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Editorial: Striding to a solution for attacks on women

Humor, even when it’s silly, can be an effective way to deliver a serious message.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is a great example of some stand-up guys making a point with stilettos. That’s heels, not knives.

This is the sixth year for Douglas County men to don high heels and promenade or wobble a mile to draw attention to the causes, effects and remedies for violence against women. It’s part of an international demonstration and is set to begin at 4 p.m. Friday on the county courthouse steps in Roseburg.

Many of the walkers each year are from branches of law enforcement, but that’s not a requirement for participation. Money raised from registration fees, sponsorships and donations will benefit a sexual assault response team with Battered Persons’ Advocacy in Roseburg.

Shoes for the walk will be provided, probably to the relief of men who are being good sports despite feeling a little ridiculous.

The goofy factor is probably one of the campaign’s strongest assets. After all, the march presents a spectacle while addressing a topic that’s so ugly it’s hard to look at it square-on.

Sexual assault and domestic violence are among those social ills people acknowledge but would rather push out of sight. And that’s what happens much of the time, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network based in Washington, D.C. The nonprofit group, which operates the National Sexual Assault hotline, reports 54 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to police and that 97 percent of rapists will never spend a day in jail.

When such cases do come to public attention, details can be so outrageous and grisly that the mind rejects them almost as a measure of self-preservation. A Douglas County Circuit Court judge last week sentenced Marcus Anthony Toler to 90 months in prison after the Tenmile man pleaded no contest to felony and misdemeanor charges connected to attacks on two women within four months of each other. One was kicked in the head during an argument. She was more fortunate than the second woman, whose body was found at the end of a blood trail on a country road. She’d been hit in the head with a baseball bat, wrapped in plastic and left for dead. Each woman was described as Toler’s girlfriend at the time she was assaulted.

No one wants to dwell on that kind of horror. Yet it can’t be ignored. Walk a Mile in Her Shoes gets people out and connecting, working together to keep the problem from being buried. By stumbling around in scarlet heels, walkers are broadcasting they’re willing to appear foolish so we’ll all take a closer look at what we can do as a team to protect others from atrocities.

Thanks, guys, for the sole support.

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The News-Review Updated Apr 23, 2013 11:49AM Published Apr 23, 2013 11:36AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.