OGDEN — Dozens of people convened on a chilly Saturday morning to stand, and walk, against sexual violence in their community.
The YCC Family Crisis Center held their seventh annual Walk Against Sexual Assault on Saturday morning at Ogden’s Big Dee Sports Park.
Supporters convened in the park’s pavilion while children played in the nearby field. Many were wearing free t-shirts from the event. There was coloring, refreshments and even the Fat Cat’s mascot was in attendance giving high-fives and free goodies to the kids.
While the mood of the event was light, many topics at hand were more serious.
T-shirts made by sexual assault survivors were displayed, and many featured messages of hope. One read, “I believe you,” and another said, “Peace is healing.”
Terrie Stephenson, the YCC’s rape recovery coordinator, thanked those in attendance and recognized those in the organization for making the event possible. Stephenson listed the many people who work around the clock to keep the YCC up and running and provide the services for survivors of sexual assault.
In addition to the clothesline of handmade shirts, a handful of handmade drawings were also displayed at the event as part of a “Healing Through Art” display. A survivor of sexual assault herself, artist Marla Nelson said assault effects every part of a person’s being, and can tear someone apart physically, emotionally and spiritually.
“My message today to all survivors is that such healing can be done,” Nelson said. “Don’t allow your experience to change the way you see yourself or the world or your dreams. No one has that power to define you.”
She encouraged survivors to reach out to others for help, and to not direct their blame to themselves. She also congratulated all survivors of sexual assault for their courage and strength to persevere, despite the odds.
“Survival is an accomplishment,” Nelson said. “The word ‘victim’ has never sat well with me. I am not a victim. I may have been victimized, but I am a victor, and I am a survivor.”
Later in the event, Stephenson brought up two members of the Ogden Police Department and awarded them for their commitment to service and excellence in serving those who have experienced sexual violence. Ogden Police Detective Andrew Howard and Officer Cazandra Goodpasture were in attendance to accept their awards.
YCC also honored Sherrie Jones, a nurse for the Northern Utah Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, or NUSANE, for her work in serving and making a difference for survivors.
Shortly before dozens of supporters began their walk to prevent sexual violence, local musician Kathi Deem pulled out her guitar and sang a song of hope. Deem said she too has benefited from the many services of the YCC, and thanked them for all their work.
“Break the silence in the night,” Deem sang. “Loose the chains that hold you tight, give your dreams wings to fly.”
The YCC has been serving the northern Utah community for over seven decades, and serves as a resource for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and other difficulties. A support group for survivors of rape is held every Wednesday from 5-6:30 p.m. at the YCC, located at 2261 Adams Ave. in Ogden.
The YCC also maintains a 24/7 crisis support hotline for survivors of assault, which can be accessed by calling 801-392-7273.