Sexual assault awareness promoted at St. George ‘Heels to Heal’ event
Advocates donned high heels and shared their own stories of surviving sexual assault on Saturday in a St. George-area event called “Heels to Heal.”
The Dove Center and the Pacific Islander Knowledge to Action Resources (PIK2AR) hosted the event, the third annual “Heels to Heal” one-mile walk, bringing in a crowd of survivors and supporters.
Organized as a way to show support for local survivors of sexual assault, the event is held every year in April during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Though heels aren’t required to participate, it is meant to show solidarity with the survivors and men and women are both encouraged to wear heels.
Dixie State University and its Women’s Resource Center, as well as the on-call nurses who deal with survivors in the hospital, were at the event to offer pamphlets and brochures sharing information on local resources.
“This purpose for this event was to bring awareness that sexual assault is a problem, and it’s prevalent here in our community,” said Torrey Sullivan, the sexual assault program coordinator at The Dove Center, a St. George-based nonprofit.
One in three Utah women report having been sexually assaulted, according to to the most recent report from the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, with about one in six reporting that they have been raped.
While Utah ranks as having among the lowest per capita rates of most violent crimes, it ranked as having the 11th-highest rate among states for rape, according to the most recent publication on the issue from the Utah Department of Health.
At Saturday’s event, two survivors shared their stories, one via a written message read to the attendees by Sullivan and one in person.
“We want to also give survivors a voice we listened to a couple of survivors today, and I think that was so needed,” Sullivan said. “It’s so important to have their voices heard, and for the community to hear that.”
There was also an Island Dance performance for the attendees, organized by PIK2AR.
“In Utah, we have higher numbers than the national average,” said Susi Feltch-Malohifo’ou, the executive director of PIK2AR. “This particular event was started three years ago because of our public talks, to show the support that we have here in St. George.”
To learn more about PIK2AR visit http://pik2ar.org.
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