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Latrice Mosley-Smith, center, holds the banner for the 1st Purple Hose and Heels 5K for domestic violence on Oct. 18. Photo by Andrea V. Watson

MATTESON, Ill.–Domestic violence is not openly discussed as much as it should be, especially in African American communities, Latrice Mosley-Smith, the organizer of the 1st Purple Hose and Heels 5K said on Saturday.

“No one talks about it, the word domestic violence is taboo,” Mosley-Smith said, who is also the founder of the brand Haute Fishnet Hosiery.

We hear that it’s not to be discussed outside the home because whatever happens in the home, stays in the home. Well domestic violence is included because guess what? The victims are embarrassed; they don’t want to talk about how someone is punching them, kicking them, hitting and beating them.”

Janay Palmer, the girlfriend of NFL football player Ray Rice confirms that. After a video of Rice hitting Palmer went viral, she spoke out on the issue through Instagram, telling people to mind their own business.

“No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family,” she said. “THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels,” she continued.

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According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. And in a 2011 report released by The Violence Policy Center, the study found that Black women are at a greater risk of experiencing domestic violence than any other group. Black women are three times more likely to be killed by a current partner or an ex than any other ethnic or racial group. It is also common for Black women to be killed by males during an argument.

Addressing this issue, which disproportionately affects African American women, is what Mosely-Smith strived to do by organizing the 5K. More than 100 people attended the walk, which started at a trail behind a Target Store, 4647 Promenade Way. Mosley-Smith hoped to raise between $1,500 to $2,000. October is domestic violence month and many of the women wore purple, which symbolically represents courage, survival, honor and dedication. The purpose of walking in the heels was to cause discomfort because that’s what domestic violence victims experience. But that doesn’t come close to the level of discomfort they live with.

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“We’re walking a mile in our sister’s shoes just to get a small glimpse of the uncomfortable position they may have been in [or are in], but we can never understand exactly what happened to them or the pain that they endured,” Mosely-Smith said.

Even though she isn’t a survivor, she watched her mother live with abuse for five years. Witnessing that inspired Mosely-Smith to organize the 5K.

When people think of domestic violence victims, they usually think of women, but Roy Mainor, an attendee, said that men can be effected by the act in more than one way. Whether they are victims themselves or they are connected to a victim, domestic violence impacts men too.

“I know people who have been victims of domestic violence,” he said. “I didn’t see it in my home, but I have some friends that are or used to be victims, so I’m running for them.”

Debbie Bennett came with her friend Ashanti Hamilton.

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Debbie Bennett and Ashanti Hamilton

“This is a great cause to walk for because people do suffer in silence and they think no one cares, but we’re here to say we do care,” Bennett said.

The purpose of the event was to create awareness on the issue. Marketing and promoting for the event began in August and Mosely-Smith said numerous people reached out beforehand thanking her for addressing domestic violence.

“There have been emails and telephone calls from people saying thank you for speaking up,thank you for being the voice, I really didn’t want to talk about it, but now maybe it’s time for me to talk about it,” she said.

Even though Mosely-Smith’s mother passed away from colon cancer, she said she knows that she would be proud of her. Her plan is to make this an annual event, reaching more and more people every year.

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