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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Men to stand up to violence against women

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

(Photo contributed) Rob Bixenman, of Le Mars, poses with his son, Sy, at the Council on Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event in 2011. Bixenman will also slip on red women's shoes to help raise money for the council and awareness for domestic violence at this year's event Saturday in Le Mars.
Men wearing women's shoes?

That will be the norm rather than a rarity Saturday when about 15 men don red women's shoes to help create domestic violence awareness.

The fifth annual "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event will be noon to 7 p.m. at Mr. P's Pizza & Sports Grill, in Le Mars.

Each of the 15 male volunteers will team up with wait staff to work for tips to raise money for the Council on Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence (CSADV).

Cathy VanMaanen, CSADV outreach coordinator for Plymouth County, said the purpose of Saturday's event is for men to stand up and speak up about men's violence against women.

"It highlights the role of men working to end violence and encourages other men to do the same," she said.

Rob Bixenman, of Le Mars, said he will gladly slip on a pair of red high heels -- just like he did last year -- to "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" Saturday.

"It's embarrassing and shocking to know the amount of domestic violence and sexual assault that occurs in our society even close to home," Bixenman said.

Domestic violence affects 1 in 4 women and girls in Plymouth County, VanMaanen said.

"That could be your neighbor, the elderly woman who has lived with her abuser 50 years, the 14 year old just starting to date and everywhere in between," she said.

That's why the "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event is important because it allows men to grasp an understanding of the domestic violence concern, she said.

"They also learn how big this problem is," VanMaanen said.

It's estimated that 95 percent of the time victims of domestic violence are women, with 5 percent being male victims, she said.

The "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event is a good way for men to help spread the message, even if walking in women's shoes is difficult, Bixenman said.

"It's kind of a fun atmosphere," he said. "I think people respond well with the tips."

Each year the "Walk a Mile" event is held in October because it's Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

"The more awareness, the more people come in for services," VanMaanen said.

All tips earned by the men in their red shoes and proceeds from a silent auction will be used at the CSADV office in Plymouth County.

"They help pay our rent to keep our physical building open. They help pay part of my salary. They help in our prevention work," VanMaanen said.

This year's silent auction includes items such as jewelry, gift certificates for manicures/pedicures and a grill.

The featured item is an University of Iowa Hawkeye's football autographed by head coach Kirk Ferentz and personalized for the buyer, VanMaanen said.

"When they come in (Saturday), folks can take a look at what we have," she said. "They can continue to bid throughout the day to ensure they get the item they want."

She said the amount of dollars raised at the "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event has grown throughout the years.

"Last year we raised about $2,500 and this year we hope to surpass that," VanMaanen said.

Those dollars are even more important this year as the CSADV looks at large cuts in state and federal funding, she said.

In addition to tips and auction proceeds, VanMaanen said she has also received some cash donations associated with the "Walk a Mile" event.

This Saturday the "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event will be held during a tailgate at Mr. P's, thanks to the generosity of owner Joe Sitzmann, VanMaanen said.

"He's really good to let us come into it and be part of his activities," she said.

It will be the second year the awareness event has been combined with the tailgate and the third year it will be hosted at Mr. P's.

"Domestic violence is definitely something that needs more awareness and more focus from the public," Sitzmann said.

Getting into the spirit of things, he usually ends up putting on a pair of women's red shoes sometime during the event.

"I will do anything to help support them," Sitzmann said.

VanMaanen encouraged people to come and bring their families to the "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event Saturday to help create domestic violence awareness.

"It's absolutely a family event," she said. "It's fun for all ages."

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