Annual walk raises awareness for survivors of sexual assault

Corryn Brock, Associate News Editor

The Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Service hosted “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes” to support survivors of sexual assault.

Erin Walters, SACIS’s executive director, said the turnout was smaller than it has been in past years but the amount of support for the event was as big as it is every year.

“Though we are not a huge group all the time, we do a have powerful statement to make,” Walters said. “Regardless of size, we’re a mighty bunch.”

Walters said this was the sixth year they have done the walk.

“We always have it the same week as Celebration weekend, Sunday of Celebration weekend, so people can anticipate it,” Walters said.

Walters said the walk is beneficial in bringing attention to sexual violence in the area.

“Sexual violence is occurring and the rates aren’t changing. It’s happening all the time. I think it’s a conversation we don’t have often,” Walters said. “SACIS is always looking for opportunities to engage people in a dialogue and get people talking and in a position where people feel empowered to speak up, speak out, speak out in support of and this is the perfect event for that.”

William Harrison, a senior sociology major, said they have participated in the walk all four years they have been at Eastern. Harrison said the walk was a symbol of community to them.

“It’s collective community support for people who have encountered sexual abuse and sexual assault,” Harrison said. “It lets them know they have support, they have support here. They can see our face as we walk and know that these are people that they can come to if they have any problems.”

Jadyn Koester, a student at Jefferson Elementary School, participated in the walk with her father and grandmother. Koester said the walk showed the good in people.

Harrison volunteers with SACIS and has done an internship with the service.

“SACIS is really doing a lot of good work here. It’s just important, it’s very important,” Harrison said.

“It just shows how lots of people really care about other people that don’t have the best life,” Koester said.

Originally the event was called “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” but Walters said the name was changed to make the event more inclusive.

“We’ve gotten a little bit further away from the red high heel shoes because we want to make sure our events are inclusive of all people’s experience,” Walters said.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, every 92 seconds an American is sexually assaulted and on average there are 321,500 victims of sexual assault in the United States of various backgrounds, ethnicities and genders.

Walters said she encourages people to look into the services SACIS offers. SACIS provides services for those victims including counseling and advocacy, as well as prevention education. For those looking for services can contact SACIS at 217-348-5033.

Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].