Lisel Petis: What does it mean to be ‘In Our Shoes?’

The entire In Our Shoes project was nothing short of powerful. Over 50 pairs of shoes were created by individuals, 14 brave individuals used their voice and body to express the impact of sexual violence and hundreds of people read some powerful articles and personal stories that opened their eyes to the complex issue of sexual violence.

However, it was also very heavy. I had close friends tell me they just couldn’t read the articles; it was too painful. I had some community members tell me they attended the event and had to leave early because it was too much to handle. I saw several people in tears and was moved to tears myself.

But out of these painful realities, came something really amazing: the community started talking. People all across the county broke through the silence and removed the taboo nature of this topic.

They talked about the fact that sexual violence exists in our community and many opened up and shared their own stories of sexual violence with their friends, family and our Advocates’ team. Eyes were opened, voices were heard and a community came together to support those who were impacted.

As a result, we heard one constant question: “What can we do as a community to help stop these horrific acts from happening?

What you can do is continue to have these conversations. Don’t let this topic go back into the silence. Help us create a community that has zero-tolerance for sexual and domestic violence. Speak up, stay informed, create change.

Make sure your children understand boundaries, consent, and healthy relationships. Get the courage to step in if you think a friend is doing something inappropriate. Be bold enough to step up to help a stranger who looks like they are in a dangerous situation.

Learn about reporting options in case you need to help a friend who has been victimized. Or reach out to Advocates to see how you can make a difference — visit, email or call 970-879-2034.

The old adage says that someone must “walk a mile in someone’s shoes to understand what they have gone through.” Thank you for taking the time to walk a mile in our shoes. Thank you for reading, thank you for listening, thank you for starting this conversation. Thank you for the phone calls, the encouraging words and the continued support. Thank you for speaking up, for breaking the silence, and working toward making a better community.

And, of course, a huge thank you to the Steamboat Pilot & Today, Young Bloods Collective and Steamboat Creates who helped make this project happen. We can’t end sexual violence alone. This is a community problem that needs a community solution, and we all took an amazing first step together.

Thank you,

Lisel Petis

Advocates of Routt County executive director

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