Defenders donned high heels and shared their own stories of sexual assault survivors Saturday at a St. George-area event called “Heels to Heal.”

The Dove Center and Pacific Islander Knowledge to Action Resources (PIK2AR) organized the event, the third annual one-mile “Heels to Heal” walk, drawing a crowd of survivors and supporters.

Organized as a way to show support for local survivors of sexual assault, the event takes place every April during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Although heels are not required to participate, it is to show solidarity with survivors and both men and women are encouraged to wear heels.

Dixie State University and its Women’s Resource Center, along with on-call nurses caring for survivors at the hospital, were at the event to offer flyers and brochures sharing information about local resources.

“The purpose of this event was to raise awareness that sexual assault is a problem and that it is prevalent here in our community,” said Torrey Sullivan, sexual assault program coordinator at the Dove Center, a nonprofit organization. nonprofit based in St. George.

Community members participate in KAVA Talks' 3rd Annual St. George Heels 2 Heal Walk on Saturday.  The event aims to raise awareness and support survivors and victims of sexual assault.

According to the latest report from the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, one in three women in Utah report being sexually assaulted, and about one in six report being raped.

While Utah ranks among the lowest per capita rates of the most violent crimes, it ranks 11th among states for rape, according to the most recent post on the matter from the Utah Department of Health.

At Saturday’s event, two survivors shared their stories, one via a written message read to attendees by Sullivan and the other in person.

“We also want to give survivors a voice that we listened to a few survivors today, and I think it was so needed,” Sullivan said. “It’s so important that their voice is heard and that the community hears it.”

There was also an island dance performance for the participants, organized by PIK2AR.

“In Utah, we have higher numbers than the national average,” said Susi Feltch-Malohifo’ou, executive director of PIK2AR. “This particular event was started three years ago because of our public discussions, to show the support we have here in Saint-Georges.

To learn more about PIK2AR visit http://pik2ar.org.

Elle Cabrera covers the latest news and topics. Please help us continue to produce this content at thespectrum.com/subscribe.