São Paulo March Celebrates 20 Years of ‘Breaking the Silence’

The Adventist-sponsored initiative is an official day in that Brazilian state’s calendar.

Vanessa Moraes, South American Division, and Adventist Review
São Paulo March Celebrates 20 Years of ‘Breaking the Silence’
[Photo: Adilson Alves]

With messages calling people to fight violence against women, children, and the elderly, and armed with thousands of white balloons, around 10,000 people gathered on August 27, 2022, on Avenida Paulista in São Paulo, Brazil, to promote peaceful resolution of conflicts. The march marked the 20th anniversary of Breaking the Silence, an initiative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the eight countries comprising the South American Division region.

The aim was to create awareness among the population in combating and preventing domestic violence and especially psychological abuse against vulnerable people, church organizers said.

Telma Brenha, women’s ministries director in the state of São Paulo, coordinated the rally and emphasized its instructional purpose. “This year we wanted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the initiative differently,” she said. “Thanks to this march, many were able to understand how Breaking the Silence works. They learned they can break their silence and say no to violence.”

On Behalf of New Generations

Pathfinder and Adventurer clubs members participated in the rally. “We are working with the new generations. Seeing children and youth participating with us was very important because we can teach them from an early age about the topics emphasized in the project,” Brenha said.

For 10-year-old Adventurer Murillo Santos, participating was enlightening. “I’ve learned that violence is bad for everyone. I want to become an adult who doesn’t practice violence,” he said.

The march covered almost a mile (1.5 kilometers) along a downtown avenue and finished with a short ceremony that included words of thanks and appreciation to participants, a song, and the release of thousands of white balloons as a symbol of peace.

Psychological Violence

Each year, Breaking the Silence addresses a different issue related to violence. In 2022, the focus was on psychological violence. Surveys by various bodies related to health and safety find that psychological violence is the most recurrent type of abuse, leading, in many cases, to other forms of aggression. It is present in homes and academic and work environments, in the form of insults, blackmailing, and threats. Because it is not a physical act, this type of aggression is often hidden and underreported to security agencies. However, it is considered a crime in several countries, given its potential to harm the victim.

Included in São Paulo Official Calendar

Breaking the Silence takes place across the eight countries comprising the South American Division of the Adventist Church: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. While initiatives take place throughout the year, the main emphasis takes place every year on the fourth Saturday in August.

In October 2019, the Breaking the Silence initiative was voted to be included in the official calendar of the state of São Paulo, according to State Law 17.186/2019.

The original version of this story was posted on the South American Division’s Portuguese news site.

Vanessa Moraes, South American Division, and Adventist Review

Vanessa Moraes, South American Division, and Adventist Review