WALLA WALLA -- It's not every day that corrections officers walk down Main Street wearing dresses.
This was the sight that greeted Walla Walla yesterday during the noon hour, as community members joined corrections officers in the YWCA's annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.
"We're just here to support the cause. It's something we all feel strongly about," said Shane Maitland, a correctional unit manager.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is intended to raise awareness of domestic violence and show support from men who are committed to ending it.
"Where we work, unfortunately, we see it every day. This is a chance to give back to the community," said Maitland.
According to YWCA Executive Director Anne-Marie Schwerin, having men present to make a statement against domestic violence is an important part of breaking the cycle.
Mark Knighton, one of the men who marched in a dress, expressed this idea more directly.
"If anyone feels like beating a woman, come talk to us first," he said.
Six officers wearing dresses led the march down Main St., followed by community members from a variety of organizations, including the YWCA, the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Zonta Club.
The group walked from Heritage Square Park to the Walla Walla County Courthouse.
County Commissioner Jim Johnson addressed attendees at the Courthouse and read aloud a proclamation against domestic violence that will be adopted by the commissioners at their meeting Monday.
Johnson said he was motivated to address the issue of domestic violence after looking up some statistics on the issue, which he cited during his speech.
In the U.S., three women are killed every day by husbands or boyfriends, and domestic violence costs $5.8 billion per year in medical expenses, other services and lost productivity.
"It's a cycle that's very hard to break," he said. "As individuals, we can do our part to get involved."
Schwerin also addressed the group and asked them to carry this message forward in their day-to-day lives.
"Each one of us is a role model for someone," she said. "What are we going to do tomorrow?"