FORT WORTH - One-hundred-and-forty-six. That's how many pairs of women's shoes, arranged in the shape of the state of Texas, covered a corner of Fort Worth's Magnolia Green Park on Wednesday.
One-hundred-and-forty-six, for the number of women murdered by a husband, boyfriend or intimate partner last year.
Activists called it "sacred ground" and a call to action.
Michelle Morgan, director of the Family Justice Center at One Safe Place, noted the 13 pairs of shoes arranged in the shape of a heart, placed where Tarrant County would be.
"A demonstration of the 13 women who have lost their lives in our county alone," she said.
Then they read aloud each of those 13 names.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. And, in the midst of training sessions for staff at the Fort Worth-based domestic violence resource center, they stepped outside and into Magnolia Green Park to honor lives lost and pledge to keep fighting for the women and children still in danger today.
"The problem is huge," Morgan said. "And I feel like we are still not reaching everyone that we need to which the shoes behind me is a clear demonstration of that."
The Family Justice Center at One Safe Place brings together, under one roof, a multi-agency network "dedicated to providing coordinated services to victims of domestic violence and their children."
The organization's website also says "this model has proven successful across the country and has been designated as a best-practice model for domestic violence intervention and prevention by the U.S. Department of Justice."
"Texas is still in the top 10 of all states in the United States where women are murdered," said Casey Gwinn, with Alliance for Hope International, which helped create the "family justice center" model now in use at more than 90 locations in the United States and abroad. "That can't continue."
So standing next to 146 pairs of women's shoes, they held a moment of silence, made a pledge to continue the fight in the legal system and in the effort to re-educate families in what is normal and what is abusive behavior.
"We are on sacred ground when we think about the moms who will never get to raise their kids," Gwinn said. "We are here because we don't want anyone else to die in vain and we commit that we will learn from this ... And we want to see less shoes. Every year we want to see less shoes, and less shoes and less shoes."
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