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Virtual Walk a Mile Driven By Connection and Community

June 7, 2021
This year, GBMC’s virtual Walk a Mile in Their Shoes engaged more than 250 participants who collectively walked/ran a total of 5,028 miles — almost double the event’s goal of 2,891 miles. In addition to miles logged, 556 community donations were made for a total of more than $80,000 raised in support of victims of domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault.

The event’s numbers illustrate an achievement, but the community of supporters tells a bigger story — one of strength and collaboration as many came together to champion this important cause. The involvement and support generated by this event helps to spread the stories of survivors as we continue to build awareness and foster conversation to build change.

As part of the event and to raise awareness of this important cause, GBMC’s forensic nurses and victim advocates shared heart-wrenching stories of what they have witnessed over the course of their careers. Their emotion and authenticity in sharing these deeply personal, compelling, and true narratives was instrumental in expressing the depth of need for victims in our community. Two stories are shared here, but please be aware they contain details of sexual violence, which can be triggering for some.

Butterfly painting by Beth-Ann Wilson
Butterfly painting by Beth-Ann Wilson
To further generate support and engagement, local artist Beth-Ann Wilson of Night Owl Gallery was one of many community partners who used her talents and industry to support the cause. The butterfly has been adopted as a symbol of hope for survivors, and GBMC auctioned off Wilson's butterfly painting to benefit GBMC’s Sexual Assault Forensic Examination/Domestic Violence Program.

According to a recent post-event survey, 50 percent of participants and donors chose to be involved because of a personal connection to the cause. This connection set the tone of the event, garnering not only financial support for victims who need GBMC’s SAFE/DV services but also mental and emotional support which shows victims there are members of the community who believe them, respect their stories, and want to make sure this violence is prevented.

"I had a patient who was beaten horribly and strangled by her perpetrator. She didn’t seem to have the same idea of the significance or severity of her injuries as I was seeing and asked me about it. I was honest and said, ‘What you have described to me and what I see on your body, it tells me that had a few more seconds passed, we may not be talking right now. You may have been brought into the hospital in a different way.’ She looked at me, with tears in her eyes, and she said, ‘Nobody’s ever said it like that. Wow, I could have been dead.’ I knew then that there was some connection, at least in that moment, that I made and she had a sense of clarity about her life and how important her life is because she’s still living today.” - Evette, SAFE Nurse

“A young woman described that she was being raped by her father and later her uncle as well. She kept the sexual abuse quiet because she felt that if she endured it, she would protect her sisters living in the household with her from the abuse. It came out when they were here at GBMC that they were all being abused and they were all trying to protect each other. And it was devastating. Once something like that happens, there is no erasing it. It doesn’t go away, ever. I think their healing begins if their friends, their family, police, forensic nurses, advocates, if we all start by believing and listening.” - Evelyn, SAFE Nurse
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