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Giving hope, and a new beginning, to DV victims | Kitsap Week
BREMERTON — Victoria Evans suffered horrific domestic abuse, beyond even the most chilling television courtroom drama. Though her story happened more than 30 years ago, her memories are too raw and she’s asked to not have the details printed.
“I was in an abusive situation that blew up,” Evans said. “And it was life threatening.”
Thankfully, Evans — who is using an alias to protect her family members — survived the nightmarish assault and was able to escape the dangerous relationship. Evans credits the Kitsap YWCA ALIVE Shelter with giving her and her two children the support they needed. They lived at the shelter where they were fed, clothed and counseled.
“The shelter gave me hope and support and love,” Evans said. “And they didn’t even know me.”
In its 34th year, the Kitsap YWCA ALIVE Shelter frequently has a waiting list. Along with the shelter, the YWCA offers support with legal advocacy, children’s services, support groups, a clothing bank and help transitioning to permanent housing.
Architect Steve Rice, a long-time YWCA supporter, wasn’t aware of all the services that the Y offered until his firm helped remodel the headquarters in Bremerton.
“They let us into their world and got us familiar with the very critical role they play in the community,” Rice said.
Rice is such a proud supporter that he agreed to don high heels for a promotional video for the upcoming “Take a Walk in Her Shoes Walk & Auction.” You can catch a glimpse of Rice and other wobbly-walking men at www.ywcakitsap.org. That’s Rice in the silver beauties, though he doesn’t think his footwear should be classified as shoes — more like tiny little straps attached to high heels, he said.
The “Take a Walk in Her Shoes” Walk & Auction is Sept. 8 at 5 p.m. The walk begins at Amy Burnett Gallery, 408 Pacific Ave., Bremerton, and ends about 300 feet down the street at the Admiral Theatre.
Sounds easy, right? Well, try walking it in high heels.
Men and women are asked to take a stand for survivors of domestic abuse and to walk in challenging shoes. If you aren’t able to borrow a pair, a variety of shoes will be available at the walk. If traipsing in high heels just isn’t your thing, event organizer Tracy McConaughy said it’s perfectly fine to wear more sensible shoes.
“YWCA of Kitsap recently launched the ‘There’s no Y without You’ campaign,” McConaughy said. “... [T]he YWCA serves over 6,000 Kitsap residents each year. This event will be an opportunity to gather, have fun and allow the YWCA of Kitsap to continue to make a difference for families.”
A shoe auction will follow the walk, complete with hors d’oeuvres and music. Seattle’s KOMO 4 News anchor Denise Whitaker will emcee the evening. All money raised will benefit the YWCA ALIVE Shelter.
Bremerton businessman Guy Stitt knows first hand the effects of domestic violence. Growing up in California, he watched as his mother endured abuse almost every weekend for several years. He wonders what life would have been like if his mother had found the help she needed. Instead, Stitt grew up in a stressful situation where his mom would leave for days at a time and Stitt relied on the kindness of others to feed and shelter him.
“People don’t want to see domestic abuse. It’s very hard to look at it,” Stitt said. “A lot of people aren’t willing to share, but I’m willing to tell my story because we learn from stories like mine. And people need to know that there are alternatives to abusive environments — like the YWCA. My wife, my sons, and my friends have spent a lot of time helping me cleanse those negative memories from my character.”
Evans has since remarried to a loving and supportive man, and she has a fulfilling job as a paraeducator in a Kitsap school district where she helps children overcome adversity. Her life has drastically changed from that dark night so many years ago.
“The YWCA helped counsel me and make me whole again,” she said. “Because I had been broken.”
“Walk in her Shoes”
— Date: Sept. 8, 5 p.m.
— Walk: The walk starts at the Amy Burnett Gallery, 408 Pacific Ave., Bremerton. Cost to participate in the high-heel walk is $50 and includes a T-shirt and admission to the shoe auction and reception. Teams are encouraged to sign-up. Prizes will be awarded.
— Shoe auction: Doors open at 5 p.m. and bidding begins at 6 p.m. at the Admiral Theatre, 515 Pacific Ave., Bremerton. Tickets are $25 and include hors d’oeuvres.
— Shoe donations: The YWCA is accepting new and very gently used shoes to auction off at the event. From sneakers to stilettos, any donation is appreciated.
— For more information and registration: Visit www.ywcakitsap.org.