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Victims of Domestic Violence Sing Out in “Finding Voice: The Music of Utah Battered Women” at U of U

“It was easier to keep quiet, because his future was my future. I was planning on being together forever.”

“One night, when the boys thought I was asleep, I heard the older one telling his younger brother that he knew about his dad dragging me across the floor by my hair, kicking me over and over. I was sick. If I had known that they knew, I would have left much sooner. I thought I was protecting them and giving them the best thing.”

“There were lots of good times-that’s what kept me there. But you never knew when it was going to turn sour.”

” My eyes were opened when I saw the list of signs of abuse: lying, making excuses, not being able to trust. His not paying attention to details or not taking care of business-the financial neglect was a form of abuse.”

“I threw up a lot. I was sick to my stomach a lot. That’s how my feelings were manifested in my life- in my stomach.”

“I was nothing. I never let people know that I was hurting.”

Oct. 9, 2003- Each of the women who will perform in the upcoming “Finding Voice: The Music of Utah Battered Women” has her own tale to tell, a story of domestic abuse or violence.

One “Finding Voice” participant contracted a sexually transmitted disease from her alcoholic husband of 20 years. Another participant says the abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband was classic: control and manipulation through physical, emotional, verbal, mental and spiritual abuse. She kept food and bedding in her van and spent many nights sleeping in the car in parking lots after fights. Another participant was abused as a child. Her mother was controlling, manipulative, used guilt and the silent treatment. A family member sexually abused her. She married an alcoholic who used their money for other purposes than to pay the bills. His drinking, apologizing, wanting to change and then starting all over again was a cycle. Her credit ruined, she had to file for bankruptcy.

In recognition of the YWCA’s Week Without Violence, The University of Utah’s Women’s Resource Center and the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU) will present “Finding Voice: The Music of Utah Battered Women,” a performance of original dance, music, poetry and storytelling, delivered by 12 women who recently participated in the Community Abuse Prevention Services Agency (CAPSA), in Logan, Utah. The event, free and open to the public, will be held on Monday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m., in the University’s Olpin Union Ballroom, located at 200 S. Central Campus Drive.

“Finding Voice,” a 70-minute production, is the result of eight months of support group sessions in which the performers participated in music, writing, movement and other creative endeavors to work through their difficult experiences and the surrounding issues. The project was funded by a post-doctoral research fellowship granted to Elizabeth York, director of the Music Therapy Program at Utah State University (USU).

“During the group sessions we sometimes sang. They taped us. Listening to the old tape recordings, we sounded so weak. Now we sing with strength. This is why the name of the presentation-‘Finding Voice’-is so meaningful,” one participant says.

“We are very fortunate to have this powerful and inspiring performance here at the University of Utah,” notes Debra Daniels, director of the University’s Women’s Resource Center. “The story and experience of battered women is frequently misrepresented and told from a perspective that is not their own. Having these women tell their story and share their experience will benefit all of us who have the opportunity to attend this extraordinary event.”

Cathy Ferrand Bullock, assistant professor in the Journalism and Communication Department at USU, explains, “‘Finding Voice’ is a strong testimony to music therapy and the positive impact of the experience on the women who participated. It is also a tool for breaking through misconceptions about domestic violence and its victims. It brushed aside the misconception that each domestic violence case is an isolated one and helped show that these cases are part of a larger social problem in need of attention.”

“Finding Voice” is also about hope. The performers recognize abuse and its accompanying cycles. They are learning skills to live with or leave abusive circumstances. “Joining the support group gave me back some respect for myself. It helped get me back on my own feet, to take care of my son, to view life as worth living,” one of the women says.

The University’s Women’s Resource Center provides educational support services for women at the U. The Center supports and facilitates women’s choices, changes and empowerment through programs, advocacy, workshops and group and individual counseling. These programs and services reflect the full complexity of women’s identities, including race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, national origin, ability and age.

For more information on the “Finding Voice” project, call the Women’s Resource Center at the University of Utah at 801-581-8030.