By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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During Walk A Mile, men wear high heels and walk — or hobble — in a short parade as a symbol of the discomfort felt by victims of sexual violence and to show support of women who suffer it.
The Port Townsend event has grown in size and ability to raise awareness about domestic violence since it began, said Jeannie Ramsey, who organized the first event in 2010 as an employee of Dove House Advocacy Services.
Dove House provides confidential crisis intervention and advocacy services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and general crime.
“It has really grown in popularity,” said Ramsey, now involved with the annual event as a volunteer.
“We only had 65 people the first year and last year we had 200.
“We could get almost as many this year.”
While the walk is free, a $5 donation is requested to help cover the cost of T-shirts and shoes.
Although it raised $1,131 in donations to Dove House in 2013, “this is not a fundraiser,” Ramsey said. “It’s an awareness campaign.”
Participants can begin gathering at Rotary Park adjacent to the ferry dock at about 5:30 p.m.
The march will begin at 6 p.m. and proceed down Water Street to the Cotton Building at 607 Water St.
Wednesday’s route is a change from past years when the march ended at the Northwest Maritime Center.
The city is making the Cotton Building available for free, Ramsey said.
Registration forms can be picked up at Dove House at 1045 10th St., and Jefferson Healthcare at 834 Sheridan St., in Port Townsend, and Hadlock Building Supply, 901 Ness’ Corner Road, Port Hadlock.
Participants who sign up on the day of the walk will not be guaranteed shoes or shirts if they are not pre-registered.
As of last week, about 120 people had registered, about half from Port Townsend High School.
“The high school boys are taking it very seriously,” Ramsey said.
“It’s good they are getting involved because that’s where the inclination for date rape and pressuring girls starts.
“If we can get these boys to be aware of this, they will tell their friends they need to be aware, respect girls and not pressure them.”
Ramsey said a lot of organizations send teams, such as those from the Food Co-op, Hadlock Building Supply, the Boeing Blue Bills, Jefferson Healthcare and Port Townsend High School.
“A lot of people have been affected by this in their lives,” Ramsey said.
“It’s a bad thing when the numbers increase but it’s good that people are not keeping it secret and coming forward,” she added.
The event is held nationwide in April, National Sexual Assault Awareness month, but it is put on later in Port Townsend because of the weather, Ramsey said.
For more information call Dove House, 360-385-5292.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.