Frank Baird has taken literally the saying not to judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes. Originally working at the Valley Trauma Center as a Rape Crisis Advocate, Baird also took on a role as a Marriage and Family Therapist Trainee, progressing to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Baird began to see and understand that violent crimes against women, such as rape, do not just affect the individual. The serious nature of the crimes also affects the entire community: their family, friends, and significant others.
Baird chose to organize the event “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” where men don a pair of red heels and literally walk a mile. The event is used to increase awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence, creating a safe environment for preventative education and informing the community about services available for recovery.
Most people aren’t aware that two thirds of violence against women is committed by someone known to the victim, and that ninety seven percent of the perpetrators will never spend a day in jail because fifty four percent of cases are not reported to police.
In a working paper, MARRI is exploring the correlation between the type of relationship mothers are engaged in is correlated to intimate partner violence. Results have shown that married mothers have a lower risk of being abused by the father of the child than cohabitating mothers, dating mothers, or mothers not in a relationship with the father. The research even demonstrates that regardless of whether they are pregnant or not women are subject to the same likelihood of domestic abuse. Furthermore, children who grow up in a home affected by parental aggression are subject to a higher incidence of behavior problems, future perpetration of abuse themselves and generally poorer outcomes than children who do not witness conflict between their parents. MARRI research (slides 2-6) indicates that children who grow up in a two parent family are 33% less likely to experience abuse than a child whose biological mother is in a cohabitating relationship.
Overall, the increased awareness among communities via the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” is a tremendous step. Not only is it educating the public on aspects of a culture they are otherwise unlikely to experience, it also educates women about the resources in their community if they are in an abusive situation, or feel threatened and need assistance.
Rachel T. Kimbro, “Together Forever? Romantic Relationship Characteristics and Prenatal Health Behaviors” Journal of Marriage and Family 70, no. 3 (2008): 750.
Menachem Fisher, Dalit Yassour-Borochowitz, Efrat Neter, “Domestic Abuse in Pregnancy: Results from a Phone Survey in Northern Israel,” Domestic Abuse in Pregnancy 5 (2003): 35.
Cheryl Buehler, Christine Anthony, Ambika Krishnakumar, Gaye Stone, Jean Gerard, and Sharon Pemberton, Interparental conflict and youth problem behaviors: A met a-analysis,” Journal of Child and Family Studies 6 (1997): 233-247;