Butterfly release ceremony symbolizes letting go of trauma

  • Rashad Williams
  • September 9, 2022
  • WYFF

GREENWOOD, S.C. — A ‘Release the Trauma Within’ butterfly release ceremony was held at Leath Correctional Institution for Women on Friday at the facility.

According to Associate Warden Michele Carter, Leath Correctional Institution is home to around 500 women. Carter said many if not most of the women have experienced some form of trauma during their lifetime.

Carter said arts, crafts and other forms of expression have been a big part in helping the inmates work toward healing some of their own trauma. Releasing butterflies on Friday was another way to do just that.

“Just because something happened in your past and something caused you trauma awhile back does not mean you can’t get over it,” Carter said. “Just because you hit a bump or this created a stumbling block for you does not mean your life is over.”

More than a dozen butterflies were released by twelve inmates, in front of a crowd of hundreds of other inmates.

“They will be releasing a part of the trauma whether it’s unforgiveness, resentment, pain, rape or sexual assault,” Carter said. “A butterfly is constantly changing. It’s growing every day.”

WYFF News 4 spoke to two inmates, only using their first names, about the importance of the ceremony, and why it’s vital to find ways to heal by flying free like a butterfly.

“All I’ve been through in my life, if I hold on to that hurt and that pain then I can’t move forward,” inmate Carman said.

“My trauma traces back to my crime and what led me here,” inmate Crystal said. “So, for me, it’s very important that these women get these feelings out and not bottle them up.”

Carter said some of the inmates participating in Friday’s ceremony are scheduled to be released in October, Carter said she hopes the ceremony will leave a life-long impact on the inmates and how they utilize an opportunity to reshape their futures.

“We try to give them the same mindset no matter how long they’ve been here, the mindset that you can make it and you can go out and do great things,” Carter said. “When they go out there and face the world, they can just think about their butterfly and how they have grown over the years or the months that they have been in here.”

Several community partners and supporting organizations were in attendance, as well as Greenwood Mayor Greenwood Brandon Smith. Mayor Smith recognized the efforts of Leath Correctional Institution by proclaiming Sept. 9, 2022, as a day to “release the trauma within” as well as efforts to better the lives of inmates through effective programs.

Originally posted here