A dozen women at the Orange Street Correctional Community Center came together Saturday as part of One Billion Rising to affirm — through speech, dance and song— their self-worth, beauty, individuality and determination to break free of domestic violence.
The women performed a dance (set to the song “Break the Chain”) for family and friends at the center. Most had never done anything like this and there were nerves and excitement as family assembled to watch.
“I wasn’t going to [participate] but I thought I’ve got to start somewhere,” said Chanda Magera. “I’m excited. I’m ready to change. It makes me see women in a totally different way.”
This is the first year that Orange Street has participated in One Billion Rising, a movement to end domestic violence.
"The kind of trauma they've experienced is usually shamed and surrounded in secrecy,” said Sharon Daurelle, director of the Salt Lake City center. “This is an opportunity to acknowledge they are not the cause of that victimization and allow them to stand up proudly to acknowledge their healing and their unity with other women and male supporters who won't tolerate this and who will celebrate them for who they are regardless of what they've been through."
Brooke Clark had a sweet surprise when her mother, who lives in Roosevelt, showed up unexpectedly to cheer her on.
Betty Mullens said she is proud of Brooke for the progress she’s made over the past 2 ½ years.
“It’s a miracle,” Mullens said. “I have hope.”
Saturday’s event was a first for Clark and she admitted she felt a little “goofy” at first as she practiced the routine but kept with it.
“It feels good to set your mind to something and be able to do it,” said Clark. “I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone and trying new things. I’m just excited to speak out and let my voice be heard and not hide in shame anymore. I’ve had a challenging life but I’m not going to let it hold me down any more.”
Volunteers from Sheroes United's Utah chapter practiced with the women earlier in the week to help them learn the dance and then turned out Saturday to perform it with them.
"We've all had our struggles — domestic violence, sexual assault — all made choices that haven't worked in one area or another," said Bridget Cook-Burch of Sheroes United, whose goal is to inspire women to make positive changes in their lives. "This is a celebration of being a woman, choosing to be a victor and to thrive [despite] circumstances."
I raise my arms to the sky
On my knees I pray
I'm not afraid anymore
I will walk through that door
Walk, dance, rise
Walk, dance, rise ...
... This is my body, my body's holy
No more excuses, no more abuses
We are mothers, we are teachers,
We are beautiful, beautiful creatures
— Lyrics from "Break the Chain"