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Memphis advocates host rally to end sexual violence against girls and women

Sexual violence affects millions of Americans, unfortunately. According to raiin.org, someone is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A rally to end violence against women is happening Thursday.

As our city continues to grieve the murders and abuse of women in our communities, local advocacy groups organized the 11th annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.

The goal is to unite everyone against gender violence. Organizers said the best thing people can do right now as a community to overcome the most recent tragedies is to unite.

Sexual violence affects millions of Americans, unfortunately. According to raiin.org, someone is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds. That is more than 400,000 people a year.

Not everyone makes it out alive, but there is one survivor ABC24 spoke with who was raped right in her home.  

“40 years ago, I was 32-years-old, a mom of a 2-year-old... divorced maybe a few months, and I was at home and I was raped by a knife,” Bettye Boone said.

Bettye Boone, who lived in Atlanta, GA at the time, said she was in her bed sleeping with her 2-year-old when a man broke into her home and jumped on her bed with a knife.

“I kept my eyes closed throughout the whole process, and my only thought was that my 2-year-old was in the bed laying next to me,” Bettye explained. “In my head, I said, I would do whatever it takes so this person won’t harm me or harm my child.”

Bettye leaned into her faith, remained silent, and prayed her way through the end of it.

“I kept my eyes closed and he kept his knife to my throat, but I told him, I said, oh this was wonderful. We need to hook up again,” Bettye stated.

She took a chance and gave him her number before he left out of the window he broke into. Soon after, Bettye called her brother, friends, and Atlanta police.

“I told them what I did, they put a recording on my telephone. I was never alone,” Bettye explained. “My brother or my girlfriends were always around me, so he did call back and when he called back, they told me to keep him on the phone long enough to record it and they did.”

When police did catch the suspect, they were able to match Bettye’s DNA sample to his. She said he was a recent parolee for rape from Florida who happened to be in Georgia. 

She expressed that this is still a healing process.

“I can tell you each detail of what happened that night. From the time that person put the knife through my throat, to the time he got caught. I can write it in detail because it stays in that memory bank,” Bettye said. “I don’t think you ever completely heal if that’s the way of saying it, because if I completely healed, I wouldn’t still check my doors today.”

Bettye is a member of the Women’s Area Memphis Council, which advocates for girls and women to eliminate barriers, fill gaps, and change policies and systems toward safety, justice, and equity.

The council as well as other advocacy groups organized the walk on Thursday at the University of Memphis to stop violence against women and girls.

“When you think about who it is that gives birth to the next generations, we should be more revered and more cared for, more valued in one way of thinking,” Women’s Area Memphis Council Executive Director Deborah Clubb said.

A man actually started this project in 2001 in California, which inspired the advocates here to do the same.

“One of our board members, Dr. Owen Phillips, 13 years ago was traveling and saw very unusual activity on a sidewalk that caught her attention. It was men marching along in women’s high heels. She came back to Memphis very happy, having looked it up, it was a project called Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, which a man had started in her community,” Clubb said. “We began to do those to get the men in our city to come and join us in this unending fight to end the pandemic of violence against women that many in our community suffer.”

Registration for the event will start at 5 p.m. and the walk will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Ramesses II statue on Central Avenue. 

There will also be high heels for men to wear if they so choose to. It is not a requirement, but rather a statement.

For tickets, click here. 

RELATED: Rape victim sues city of Memphis; claims she was raped by Eliza Fletcher's alleged killer

RELATED: Rape kit backlog in Memphis: Survivor talks lack of justice in decades-old rape

RELATED: Arkansas State Crime Lab actively working to reduce number of untested sexual assault kits

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