DuBOIS — Anyone in the vicinity of the DuBois City Park early Saturday afternoon may have done a double take if they saw city police officer Lance Thompson walking around in red high heels.

But if they looked a little closer, they would have noticed that he was just one of about 30 other men who stepped into the high heels to participate in the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event organized by victim advocacy group PASSAGES of Clarion, Clearfield and Jefferson counties. The annual march is meant to raise awareness of the battle against rape, sexual assault, and gender violence, and to get more men involved in the fight.

“It’s for a good cause,” Thompson said. “It will draw more attention and bring awareness, I think, seeing a police officer wearing six-inch heels.”

“It hurt,” Thompson said when asked about how it felt to wear the heels. “I was trying to walk on my toes and I kept jamming my toes into the point of the shoe. I thought my toes were breaking halfway through it.”

Thompson said he will try to get more of the city police to participate in the event next year.

“It wasn’t too bad,” said James Brock. “My toes were scrunched, it was work.” Brock said he was happy to walk because his wife works for PASSAGES, which stands for Prevention And Service for Sexual Assault through Guidance, Empowerment, and Support, advocates for the rights and needs of survivors of sexual violence, while working to eliminate all forms of sexual violence by educating community members and promoting social change.

Volunteer Coordinator and Community Outreach Advocate Tia DeShong said the men walked four times around the sidewalk in the front part of the city park by Liberty Boulevard. The walk takes a little longer than a casual walker would take because the shoes are tricky.

“And that’s not even a full mile. It’s actually closer to half a mile, but we went easy on them,” DeShong said. “Normally, it could weave through the whole park, but with the construction it was shortened.”

This walk was the first time PASSAGES has done one in Clearfield County, besides the Penn State DuBois event in the fall.

She said she hopes it helps raise more awareness.

“No one knows we exist. They don’t know what we do. They don’t know that if they need us, we’re out there,” said DeShong.

According to PASSAGES statistics, DeShong said those at the highest risk for sexual violence is children.

“It’s one in four women or girls and one in six boys by their 18th birthday experience sexual abuse. After 18, the risk for women drops down to about one in five, so it’s about the same for men, one in 71,” DeShong said. “So, this is designed to engage men for that reason, because it stops being an issue for them. It’s an issue for all of us. We got to get them involved, make them feel a little vulnerable in their heels and raise awareness about that.”

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