SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – She puts on an older pair of four-inch macramé wedge heels. Her toes fit very snuggly into the shoes. Step after step, she slowly makes her way down the streets of Spangdahlem Air Base.
After walking for a while, her feet begin to swell, and her toes start to fall asleep. Determined to walk a whole mile with this pair of shoes on, she presses onward. As she stumbles along, she focuses on keeping her balance. Her toes start to bleed, but she continues forward. She sees the end in sight.
Now, the mile is finished. She made it walking in the type of shoes her mother wore when it happened.
“My mother is a survivor of sexual assault,” said Ashley Judice. “I have felt the consequences of that event throughout my life as a ripple effect because …
“I am a date rape baby. She kept me.”
For Judice and approximately 30 others who attended Walk a Mile in Their Shoes, it was no ordinary mile. It was all for the cause of helping to inform Saber Nation there are survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Second, to help prevent these events from happening by pointing out the visible red flags. Lastly, to show the resources that are available to all on base.
“I had an epiphany in the middle of the night,” said Tech. Sgt. Ashley Judice, water & fuel systems craftsman with the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron. “If we call sexual assault victims survivors, and we also call domestic violence victims survivors then why is there nothing for survivors? A survivor doesn’t have to be a ‘her,’ it can be him, a child, or an adult. We need something for survivors.”
The spark was created in the middle of the night but took time to develop into the event, Walk a Mile in Their Shoes, which took place Oct. 4. 2018 at Spangdahlem Air Base. Where approximately 30 people walked the mile.
“We were on such a busy street, that when people drove by, they saw droves of people coming together as a support network,” said Mrs. Lydia Leasher, a full-time victim advocate at the Spangdahlem Air Base Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office.
Event volunteers placed signs along the mile walk with stories about actual events that took place leading up to domestic violence, sexual assault or suicide and highlighted the red flags of each person’s event.
“It is amazing to see what people can survive,” said Judice. “It’s inspiring and amazing. I think that needs to be recognized and celebrated that these things happen to people on a daily basis. We have the means to help them. We just have to recognize and give them strength, impower them and give them help. The helping agencies are here. They are for free!”
The mile walk kicked off at the airpark and ended at the brick house where people from support agencies hosted information booths on prevention topics, awareness, and helpful resources were available. The Family Advocacy, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, First Sergeants, and other agencies on base were in attendences.
“This brings in the cohesiveness within our base, to bring all the different agencies to showcase their different resources, focuses, and missions,” said 1st Lt. Kierra Bailey, Deputy Sexual Assault Response Coordinator at Spangdahlem Air Base SAPR office.
All the helping agencies on base work together to get every Airman the proper help they deserve.
“We are always available 24/7,” said Leasher. “We are a safe, confidential location. We’re not threatning. We’re motivated. We love this job. We’re excited to help anyone out and get them to the proper resource. There is always a choice. There are always options. We want to be that option for you.”