Walk a Mile in Her Shoes brings sexual assault issues to light


Students participate in last year’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes. File photo by Rachel Kilroy.

Caitlyn Callahan

New iPhone app keeps friends close in sticky situations

The new Circle of 6 anti-violence app is a free iPhone app that allows a user to choose six contacts who are available at the tap of a finger, in case of an emergency.

The app has programmed emergency text messages you can send to these six contacts so time isn’t wasted trying to type out a text. The app then automatically identifies and forwards your exact location to the six contacts, as well as providing a one-touch 911 dialer.

Nancy Schwartzman, founder and executive director of The Line Campaign, Inc. said their goal is to have the Circle of 6 app in the hands of 30,000 college students within its first year. She said within the first two weeks of the app release there have been 19,000 downloads.

Since April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, she said she encourages students to download the app in case it is needed.

Sexual assault is any sexual contact without a person’s consent. It can range from unwanted touching or fondling to rape. A person cannot provide consent when forced, threatened, intimidated or physically or mentally incapacitated, including when alcohol is involved.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, the International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault and Gender Violence, will be held Tuesday and is being organized by the Kent State Women’s Center, as well as several other campus departments and student organizations. This year is the second year the event has been held at Kent State.

“The purpose of [the walk] is to create a gender movement where men are a part of ending sexual assault,” Amanda Kenney, program coordinator for the Women’s Center said. “Our purpose is to get awareness out and education and prevention about sexual assault awareness and really reach out to men to be a part of the solution.”

Kenney said about 300 people went to the event last year, and they are hoping for a good turnout this year. Men should provide their own high heels and wear them (a staple of the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event), while women are encouraged to wear tennis shoes.

Michquel Penn, community resource officer for the Kent State Police Department, said there will be a variety of events and speakers, including a disc jockey, contests and trophies.

“I’m excited,” she said. “It should be really fun.”

Kaitlin Jaekle, senior psychology major and intern at the Women’s Center, said the event is really important to her.

“[Society doesn’t] realize people really do get assaulted,” she said. “You need to be aware of it. You need to learn about it. You need to know how to handle a situation.”

Kent State provides several response options for students who have been sexually assaulted.

SART is the university’s Sexual Assault Response Team. Mitzi Hutchins, SART coordinator and graduate assistant, said SART is a team constructed to meet the needs of the campus community and response to sexual assault.

Penn said even though reports of sexual assault are very low, the university recognizes that they are still occurring. According to police records, there have been four incidents reported since January 2011.

“We know these things exist, they just may not be reported,” Penn said. “So what the team is doing is putting out some of the educational pieces, prevention programming and the actual response.”

Penn said if someone is sexually assaulted, SART, as well as other campus resources, including the University Health Services, KSU Police, Women’s Center and others, give emotional aid and medical assistance to the victim.

“We want them to know whether or not they report it there are still resources out there for them to get help,” Penn said. “We see how we can work around some of the dilemmas they may face.”

Hutchins said a person does not have to officially report an assault to acknowledge that it happened and get help.

“What happens after kind of depends on the person and what’s going on and what their needs are, because they could range in a variety of things,” Hutchins said. “Everybody’s trek is very different and people need different levels of support.”

If a person does decide to report the incident, Penn said the police are very sensitive to what the person is going through. She said most of the time they take victims to St. Thomas Hospital, where evidence is collected and medical attention is received.

“We take them, and more than likely, we stay there with them to make sure they are comfortable and are OK during that time period,” she said.

Penn said many victims may not report the assault because they don’t think the police will believe them or they don’t care, but that is not the case.

“We take the time to investigate these matters here, and until we find out otherwise, we are going to take what the victim said and go through that,” Penn said.

She said students need to “be more cautious and not so much trusting with everyone” to prevent sexual assault. She said students should know their limits when it comes to drinking alcohol and should always pay attention to their drinks. She also cautioned students to go out with a group, tell someone where they’re going and what time they expect to be home, and have someone who can make sure they’re home safely.

“It doesn’t occur to people all the time that somebody would try to take advantage of them like that,” Penn said.

She said if students have questions or need help they can call 330-672-8016 or visit the SART website at http://www.kent.edu/sart/meet-the-sart.cfm.

Contact Caitlyn Callahan at [email protected].