Visitors to this year's first Friday Nights Uptown may get a little surprise when they see men strutting their stuff in women's high heels.
It's all part of the local Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, set to kick off at 6:30 p.m. May 17.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is an international men's march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence. There are about 100 participants registered to walk that mile on the streets of Marysville. Most of them will do so in women's shoes, including Marysville Police Chief Floyd Golden, Union County Sheriff Jamie Patton and Union County Prosecutor David Phillips.
Union County's sexual assault response team and victims advocate group told Phillips about the march and he thought it was a good way to bring attention to gender violence.
"It's a lighthearted way to discuss a relatively serious subject," he said. "We -- that is, we as men -- need to look at the women in our relationships and how they're being treated and look at it from their perspective."
Phillips' office does not see all misdemeanor charges but he said for last year, there were 75 domestic violence cases filed by the Marysville Police Department and the Union County Sheriff's Office.
"We had 32 allegations of rape and 42 of other sexually related offenses," he said.
That does not include any cases filed by the Richwood or Plain City police departments.
"People don't want to talk about family violence. It's not something women want to discuss," Phillips said. "The dynamics of domestic violence makes it difficult to prosecute those types of cases.
"While the victim wants the violence to stop, they don't necessarily want the relationship to stop," he added. "Many times, after the violence is over, police are called and charges are filed, then there's regret or guilt. There's also a situation where there's a long-term relationship or family relationship being affected."
Sometimes, he said, the women want the charges to go away and sometimes the victim won't cooperate with authorities.
In those cases, Phillips said, authorities do have options.
"Evidence-based prosecution is one of them -- collecting evidence up front, such as a 911 call, and taking photographs. It is possible to prosecute these cases without the help of the victim and sometimes we do that," he said.
Phillips said he is not aware of a trend in increased or decreased domestic violence cases.
"If we can prevent violence, it beats prosecuting the violence," he said. "I think domestic violence is under reported. If family violence isn't addressed, it's going to escalate.
"We've had women who have been dragged across parking lots and beaten. The violence is not going go away. What happens is, if it's not prosecuted, if it's not brought to the attention of law enforcement, then it empowers that person to continue, so we really want to support women and encourage them to come forward."
Turning Point, a domestic violence shelter, has been designated as the benefactor of any monetary donations received during Walk a Mile in Her Shoes. Anyone interested in participating in the walk can call 937-645-4160. There is no fee to participate in the walk.
There also is no fee to attend the Friday Nights Uptown events.
City Recreation/Event Coordinator Amanda Morris said the inaugural event May 17 will be the annual Rib Fest, with music by Arnett Howard.
June 14 is the Wine and Jazz Fest, with music by Dave Powers. Six wineries have signed up so far to participate, Morris said.
The third Friday Nights Uptown will be Chalk the Block July 12. Artists, both amateurs and professionals, will be able to paint the town with chalk art. McGuffey Lane will provide the entertainment.
The final Friday Nights Uptown event, Founders Day & Car Show, is scheduled Aug. 9.
All four events run from 6 to 10 p.m. Vendors will be set up on Court Street between Fifth and Sixth streets.
The city of Marysville took charge of Friday Nights Uptown three years ago.
"Our main focus is to give back to the community," Morris said.
Phillips hopes combining Walk a Mile in Her Shoes with the popular Friday Nights Uptown will draw some much-needed attention to a sensitive topic.
"This is a way to really promote that men see the woman's perspective in violent crime and to start a community discussion about it," he said.