Pairs of shoes accompanied by the stories of domestic violence survivors will be displayed in Montgomery County during October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The Montgomery County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council's initiative is called “Walk in Their Shoes.” On Tuesday, the Montgomery City Council launched the campaign, and survivors of domestic violence including Cheryl Kravitz shared their stories.
“I can honestly say to you that I would not be alive today if someone hadn’t cared enough to help,” she said.
The shoes represent victims and survivors of domestic abuse who live in Montgomery County. Officials said they hope the displays will help residents understand the prevalence of abuse, recognize warning signs and use free local resources.
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Kravitz shared what it was like to live with an abusive husband.
“To cover the black and blue marks, I wore long sleeves and long pants even in the heat of a Tulsa summer, which is where we wound up,” she said.
While she said it’s difficult to recount her trauma, Kravitz said she believes speaking out can save lives. A friend came to her rescue after one particularly violent moment, and since then she has been offering to help others.
“I promised myself that night that if I made it out alive, I would devote my life to helping other victims of domestic abuse,” she said.
Domestic violence is an issue that’s been amplified by the pandemic. In 2021, there were five domestic-violence related deaths in Montgomery County out of 58 reported in the state of Maryland.
“The financial strain and the emotional strain and the substance abuse issues that are all part of this awful story — that perpetuates itself over and over again — have become worse,” Councilmember Gabe Albornoz said.
The county also plans to increase outreach to teenagers.
“Teach a young person that when they’re 15, 16, 17 years old. They will demand it when they’re older,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said.
The displays will be posted in government buildings, recreation centers, libraries and police stations.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), visiting www.thehotline.org or texting LOVEIS to 22522.