murder of Kasandra Perkins.
I could spend days, weeks and even years discussing my outrage about
acts of gender violence in my home country of Canada, as well as other
countries all over the world, but I would like to talk frankly about an
issue that is affecting my community right now.
I live in a
small city in South Western Ontario and we are about to embark on our
first annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® men’s march to stop rape, sexual
assault and gender violence. Over the past few years I have been an
active volunteer with my local women’s emergency shelter and when they
had discussed launching this event in 2013 I couldn’t have been a
My first experience with gender violence in
my community was in 2002 when a 21 year-old woman was stabbed to death
58 times by her ex-partner in her parking complex. I was a young, naive
15 year-old girl at the time and while I was saddened by this murder, I
was also too young to be aware of the misogynistic undertones of the
comments that others were making about it. The murderer was a popular
young athlete who had put our unassuming little hamlet “on the map”
which led many to defend and make excuses for him. Murmurs around town,
to this day, harken back to victim blaming and shaming that was
characteristic of our culture decades ago. I have heard respected
members of the community blame the victim because she was supposedly
“unfaithful”, “an addict” or even that “she hit him too, ya know!” It
wasn’t until I began my sociology program in University that I
discovered how detrimental these attitudes were to the community and the
The second experience occurred only two months ago when a
woman was murdered by her estranged partner while her two children hid
upstairs. This particular tragedy touched me in a very deep way. It
caused me to dive in to my volunteer role with more feverous passion
than I had ever felt before. This happened to her, to us, to our
community and I wasn’t going to let it be another instance of victim
blaming. I decided that in order for me to contribute to ending gender
violence I would have to go out in to the community and TALK about it. I
would talk to anyone and everyone who would listen and was willing to
talk with me. Words are power, naming things is power. I wanted to delve
deeper than saying in passing, “what a tragedy about that woman and her
children.” It WAS a tragedy. It was devastating. Now let’s talk about
why it happened and how we can prevent it from happening again.
is time that we take hold of community events like Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® to get people talking and get people engaged. Domestic violence
and sexual assault are NOT a private problem, they are a public issue.
My organizing and recruiting efforts to date have been well received but
I want you to open you ears not your wallets. Put yourself in her shoes
and change your attitudes, beliefs and behaviors so that we don’t pass
on a sexualized, patriarchal, misogynistic view of women and
subsequently domestic violence to our future generations.
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