Domestic violence continues to be a growing problem in the La Crosse community, but Friday night hundreds of men and women are taking a stand one pair of red high heels at a time.
About 200 people put on a pair of heels to participate in the 4th annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event. The heels represent the pain women go through in situations of domestic violence.
For one survivor, she said it's this kind support that helps gets the community one step closer to ending domestic violence.
“Nothing represents a woman better than a pair of heels,” said Kim Salwolke, a committee member for the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.
The walk supports two organizations working to help victims of domestic violence. One of them, the Gundersen Medical Foundation's Carilee Fund, holds a personal place in her heart.
“It's named after Carilee,” said Salwolke. “She was a victim of domestic violence and she was my mom.”
It's not the easiest subject for her to talk about, even more than 20 years after losing one of the people she loved most.
“My father was an abusive person, and one day it turned violent and she couldn't survive,” said Salwolke. “I want other people to see themselves (and) to get out before it gets to that point and to get out safely."
La Crosse’s New Horizons Shelter and Outreach Center’s assistant director Amanda Dotson said they're serving more victims of domestic violence.
“We served 252 men women and children in shelter last year,” said Dotson. “We will probably get to about 300 this year.”
Dotson said that's just the people coming forward for help. She said the stigma attached to domestic violence is one of the things keeping victims in hiding. She adds victims often don’t have the resources to live on their own and the person abusing them is often someone they know.
“If you're a victim of domestic violence, you're not seen as somebody who should be helped,” said Dotson. “We're a community, and so we need to take care of each other and to know that violence in any form isn't OK. Domestic violence isn't OK.”
Salwolke hopes by sharing her story and promoting events like this one, an end to domestic violence will come soon.
“(It won’t end) until everyone is OK coming forward to get help,” said Salwolke. “Unfortunately, it's going to go on for a while, but we can help as many as we can.”
The Gundersen Medical Foundation's Carilee Fund started in 2005. The fund helps hundreds of victims of domestic violence every year with financial assistance for things including rent, child care and legal help.
Money raised from the walk will also go to help the Y.W.C.A.
Click on the links below for more information on help for domestic violence.