Women’s shoes covered one side of the broad steps leading to the Tarrant County Courthouse’s east entrance Tuesday morning — one pair for each woman in Texas killed in 2012 by someone who had been an intimate partner.
Among the 114 pairs of adult shoes were five pairs of little ones to represent the children who died with the women. Zonta Club of Fort Worth arranged the exhibit to build awareness, member Lynn Sudbury said.
“We’re doing this today so that the community can become more aware of violence issues against women,” Sudbury said. Zonta is dedicated to improving the status of women.
Each pair of adult shoes, donated by Zonta members and friends, had a tag bearing the name of a woman and detailing the circumstances of her death.
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For example, the tag for Dalena Melika Anderson, 29, of Houston said a 50-year-old ex-boyfriend stabbed her to death in her home while her 7-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter watched, and then killed himself with a gun.
Sudbury and fellow Zonta members were at the courthouse to explain the exhibit’s significance and hand out rubber wristbands with the slogan “ Zonta says No” to symbolize the campaign to end violence against women and girls worldwide.
Though domestic violence is a Zonta International cause, each of the 1,184 clubs was expected to come up with its own awareness event, Sudbury said. She said the shoe idea has been used before.
“I had seen it on the Internet, done in Milan, Italy, by an artist in a mall to commemorate women who were murdered,” Sudbury said. “I also saw that a woman somewhere, I can’t remember where, put red shoes along a river as a protest against violence.”
The cause is personal for Sudbury. She lived with an abuser for five years in her second marriage.
“I had kids in middle and high school,” Sudbury said. “The most dangerous time is when you’re leaving, because you get his emotions all stirred up. I got out of it when it got to looking like being killed was a possibility.”
The public responded well to Tuesday’s exhibit, Sudbury said.
“Many people come and sit and read the stories that are on the little tags on the shoes,” she said. “We’ve had representatives from the DA’s office and Commissioners Court, and they’re all very enthusiastic and positive and supportive of what we’re doing here.”
Family law attorney Cori Hallock said she found the exhibit unsettling, but important.
“I’ve worked with women who struggled to get out of their situations,” Hallock said. “It’s frustrating that women don’t know how to get help and a lot of times there’s not a good legal remedy, especially if they have kids with someone.”
A man who came to the courthouse to research property records, Lee Herron, said he was deeply affected by the exhibit.
“I just want to be a part of the solution, you know,” Herron said. “Trying to find a solution.”
The exhibit was up from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday. Next, the shoes were headed for The Ladder Alliance, which is dedicated to teaching computer skills and instilling self-confidence in women at risk of becoming domestic violence victims.
Zonta International is an organization of executives and professionals dedicated to advancing the status of women worldwide, Sudbury said in a news release. Zonta Club of Fort Worth raises money for local and international service and advocacy projects designed to carry out the organization’s mission.