A dreary rainy morning greeted the walkers, but clear skies and sunshine covered them by the end of their walking journey.
The “Walk in My Shoes” campaign began on Jan. 14 in Key West and made its way to Pensacola on Feb. 13 with the “Rally in Tally” finishing the walk on Feb. 22. The Pensacola to Navarre 20-mile segment of the walk took place Feb. 14. The walk is in its third year and was created by Lauren Book of Lauren’s Kids.
Lauren walks 1,000 miles each year, with 500 miles being added this year, to raise awareness about sexual abuse and to help Florida survivors heal by talking about their stories.
The rain that greeted Lauren and the walkers was analogous to the journey that sexual abuse survivors take on their path to healing.
“The walk is a physical manifestation,” Lauren said, “of our healing journey as survivors.”
As a survivor of six years of sexual abuse as a child, Lauren knows intimately the courage it takes to speak up, to tell, and to not only survive but to “thrive.”
“It seems impossible and feels like you’re never going to get through,” Lauren explained, “and there are days you want to throw in the towel and quit.” She continued, “And then there are days that you meet other survivors and that gives you strength to get through.”
Lauren stressed the importance of letting survivors know that the sexual abuse they experienced is not the sum of who they are; it is just one part.
She compares it to a scar.
“You always remember how you got the scar,” she said, “but it becomes the toughest part of who and what you are.”
For more on this story, see the Feb. 23 issue of Navarre Press or subscribe online.