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Salsa therapy: Colombia’s solution to combating sexual violence

Top NewsSalsa therapy: Colombia's solution to combating sexual violence

**Salsa Therapy: Healing Through Dance in Colombia**

The city of Cali, Colombia, is a place of vibrant culture and energetic rhythms, where salsa dancing is not just a pastime, but a form of therapy for survivors of sexual violence. This unique approach to healing, combining movement and psychotherapy, has been embraced by a local nonprofit organization called Mi Cuerpo Es Mi Historia, meaning “My body is my story.” Through its innovative project, young girls have found solace and empowerment through the power of dance, helping them to heal and cope with their traumatic experiences.

**Finding Refuge in Salsa Dancing**

Carmen Diaz, a survivor of sexual abuse, found herself embroiled in a tumultuous life after fleeing from home at the age of 13. However, it was through the intervention of Mi Cuerpo Es Mi Historia that she discovered the transformative impact of salsa dancing on her journey to recovery. Despite initial resistance and a deep sense of distrust, Diaz eventually found a sense of liberation and joy through the expressive movements of salsa, shedding the label of a victim and embracing the strength of a survivor.

**The Therapeutic Power of Dance**

Research supports the notion that dance and movement can have significant psychological benefits, offering a unique avenue for individuals to express and process their emotions. Dance movement therapy has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, providing a valuable outlet for individuals to navigate their inner struggles. Dita Federman, a dance movement therapist, highlights the comprehensive nature of dance therapy, emphasizing the potential for individuals to recall and express past memories through coordinated movement and balance.

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**Challenges and Considerations**

While dance therapy has demonstrated its efficacy in aiding survivors of sexual violence, it is essential to recognize the complexity of addressing such trauma. Martha Isabel Cordoba Arevalo, the founder of Mi Cuerpo Es Mi Historia, emphasizes the need for time, resources, and trained professionals to facilitate meaningful transformations in the lives of survivors. Additionally, the risk of re-traumatization must be carefully managed, with a cautious approach and avoidance of direct questioning for emotional material during the therapy process.

**A Beacon of Hope in the Face of Gender-Based Violence**

Colombia grapples with alarming levels of gender-based violence, with one-third of women having suffered physical or sexual violence at the hands of a partner. The country’s tumultuous history of armed conflict has further contributed to the prevalence of sexual violence, with a significant portion of the victims being women. Against this backdrop, dance therapy emerges as a beacon of hope, offering small steps towards addressing the profound impact of gender-based violence and providing a unique avenue for healing and empowerment.

**Empowerment Through Salsa**

Mi Cuerpo Es Mi Historia not only provides survivors with the therapeutic benefits of salsa dancing but also cultivates a pathway for them to become salsa instructors, passing on their acquired skills and knowledge to others. This initiative not only fosters personal growth and empowerment but also presents opportunities for survivors to pursue careers in dance instruction, providing them with a renewed sense of purpose and agency.


Salsa therapy in Colombia represents a remarkable fusion of art and healing, offering survivors of sexual violence a transformative journey towards empowerment and recovery. As the rhythmic beats of salsa intertwine with the resilience and determination of survivors, it becomes evident that dance has the power to transcend trauma and illuminate the path towards healing. In the midst of profound challenges, the harmonious movements of salsa offer a glimmer of hope and strength, demonstrating the profound impact of artistic expression in the face of adversity.

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