Here is something I know about trauma:
I know that trauma is complicated and heavy – it’s deep and it’s rampant. I also know that trauma lives in our bodies, in the cells and muscles; it resides there frozen like a glacier, stubborn and prickly and static.
When I go into women’s prisons, their trauma is everywhere: in their stories, their bad decisions, what’s possible (or not) for them in any given week. But when I invite our students to move, breathe and connect, something powerful happens.
They report that those glaciers start to melt so that some of those painful memories and events they carry around can start to metabolize.
I witnessed this melting in a really moving way during our visit last month to the largest women’s prison in the US – at Lowell, in Ocala, FL.
There I met QP.
QP has been in prison for 4.5 years and will leave in 2. She is a former gang member who is in prison for armed robbery. Without excusing her past actions, I can report that when I met her, she was one of the most well mannered and respectful students I’ve ever witnessed. QP exuded leadership potential. She was charismatic, playful and deep, and she had the capacity to lift the other women up.
Being able to dance was transformational for QP. Below is her poem she shared with the group on our last day:
“A new meaning of dance, not entrance, but divine suffering, pain, betrayal and hate deep inside unloved, neglected, abused, beaten and raped but all led me to this point I’m calling it fate.
I dance for the struggle, I dance for the hurt so grateful to feel life and not buried in the dirt I throw my body around and let the rhythm explode let my movements show everyone of my secrets untold
my heart is fighting and it needs to be known so I unleash the beast to the beat of the song unravel the layers as I shed so many tears deeper and deeper until my soul is revealed can’t stop won’t stop,
I push and go hard I’m not ashamed, I own the bruises and scars I want everyone to feel my intensity no more bondage I dance to be free.”
What I also know about trauma is – that when you are violated or helpless, like QP expressed, you no longer have control over your body. Dancing brings back that lost sense of control; while you are expressing and releasing those stuck memories, you are the authority of your body.
What if we could send QP out into the world in 2 years with more softness and tools?
I envision a world where I can hire QP to replicate me by teaching her incarcerated sisters who were abused and beaten.
By the way, we meet QPs in every prison we work in.
What is the price tag for healing all of the QPs out there?
The cost of delivering our mission is relatively cheap, yet we still need money to return, reinforce and expand!
During our summer campaign, please consider making the most generous gift you can to help us use dance to heal trauma in some of our most marginalized women: those who are incarcerated.
Your donations will help us get into more prisons, dance more, teach more — and begin to prepare these women for something new.
Our goal is to raise $50,000 by Labor Day. To be a part of this life-changing work, please click HERE or mail a check to:
3980 N. Broadway Ste. #103 PMB – 215
Boulder, CO 80304
Thank you for your generosity and consideration!
GET US INTO PRISON
Lucy Wallace, MA