Hundreds show support for state crisis center – money raised to aid survivors

  • Jim Doyle (center) waves to the crowed as he walks with his friend, Pastor Jonathan Hopkins of Concordia Lutheran Church, at the 8th annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event on Main Street in Concord on Wednesday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • A pair of the many shoes – ”even a size 13 –” at the 8th ann™ual “Walk a Mile” event in downtown Concord on Wednesday.

  • Donald Sullivan, the state-appointed overseer at St. Paul’s School,  listens during the speeches during the “Walk a Mile” event Wednesday.

  • David Bass of Northfield speaks at the ‘Walk a mile in their Shoes’€™ rally at the State House on Wednesday, October 5, 2022. Bass lost his daughter, Emily, to domestic violece and spoke to the group before the walk. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Members of the St. Paul’™s football team participate in the 8th annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event in Concord on Wednesday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • David Bass of Northfield shows off his outfit before the ‘Walk a mile in their Shoes’€™ at the State House on Wednesday, October 5, 2022. Bass lost his daughter, Emily, to domestic violece and spoke to the group before the walk. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 10/6/2022 5:21:39 PM

In 2006, Jim Doyle’s sister-in-law was trying to get out of an abusive relationship.

The day she tried to leave her boyfriend, she was found unconscious in their home, facedown in a mop bucket containing 3-inches of water. Police later ruled her death an accidental drowning, he said.

“It’s a very personal thing for me to help raise awareness and to stand in support of victims of domestic, sexual and gender violence and to do what we can to stand with them,” Doyle said.

On Wednesday, Doyle and his wife Amy walked alongside hundreds of others in support of the Crisis Center of Central New Hampshire and their mission to aid and serve survivors of physical and sexual abuse.

The Doyles have been walking in honor of their sister, Jennifer Smith Fuller, and other victims and survivors, since the walk began in 2014.

“The community comes together to raise awareness and walks a mile in heels to signify the journey that domestic violence and sexual violence survivors face as they address their abuse,” Crisis Center Executive Director Jessica Vaughn-Martin said in a statement.

Though heels are not required, they are encouraged.

“At first, I thought it was just for men in heels,” Doyle said. “But it’s a fun and lighthearted way to address and support very serious issues.”

The first year that Doyle walked, he strapped on a pair of wedges. The second year, a pair of knee-high boots with 4-inch heels. This year, he chose a pair of snakeskin stilettos.

“I can’t believe I am saying this, but this year, I’m changing it up,” he said. “I wanted to go with a more open toe design so my feet aren’t crammed down in there.”

Since the Crisis Center opened nearly 45 years ago, the non-profit has provided services to survivors of sexual assault, domestic assault, gender violence, human trafficking, child abuse and elder abuse in Merrimack County, helping around 1,755 people a year, said Debbie Johnson, director of development and communications.

“We average about 30 calls a day,” she said. “We have an emergency shelter, which is the largest shelter in New Hampshire, for domestic violence survivors. It has been full for the last two years.”

The money raised during the walk-a-mile event, which is their biggest fundraiser of the year, goes toward funding services for survivors, like hospital visits, court advocacy programs, hotel costs for emergency situations, housing programs and prevention education.

“I feel like it’s an unknown in the community and it’s important for people to understand what they do and the critical need for the services they provide,” said Marianne Fleischman who walks annually with her husband. “I walk because I believe that everyone has the right to be safe in their home.”

Walking alongside Fleischman and Doyle were members of the Concord police and fire departments and students and staff from St. Paul’s School. Over 200 people registered to walk.

“We are proud to support CCCNH’s work to raise awareness and empathy as we strengthen our partnership with the organization,” St. Paul’s School Rector Kathy Giles said in a statement. “The Walk a Mile event is a proactive, positive way to reinforce the important of their work, and we value the opportunity to provide students with an additional means of engaging with these issues.”

As part of their services, the Crisis Center also provides in-classroom education to high schools, colleges and universities nearby, like St. Paul’s School, Johnson said. The education is tailored to what the schools need, including what healthy relationships look like and an introduction to both sexual assault and domestic violence.

“There’s been a lot of momentum and enthusiasm this year,” Johnson said. “This is not an issue everyone loves to talk about and the fact that we had so many participants and such a great turnout this year goes to show how supportive our communities are in helping our survivors.”

Jamie Costa

Jamie Costa joined the Monitor in September 2022 as the city reporter covering all things Concord, from crime and law enforcement to City Council and county budgeting. She graduated from Roger Williams University (RWU) in 2018 with a dual degree in journalism and Spanish. While at RWU, Costa covered the 2016 presidential election and studied abroad in both Chile and the Dominican Republic where she reported on social justice and reported on local campus news for the university newspaper, The Hawks' Herald. Her work has also appeared in The *Enterprise *papers and the *Cortland Standard *and surrounding Central New York publications. Costa was born and raised on Cape Cod and has a love for all things outdoors, especially with her dog.

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