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Smash Therapy: Breaking Through Stress and Pain |

Smash Therapy: Breaking Through Stress and Pain

The sounds of breaking glass, loud music and emotional release echo inside an old Cheerwine warehouse in Salisbury.


“Giving people a place where they could just let go of whatever’s bothering them,” said Elysia Demers, owner of Grievous Gallery.

Glass bottles, ceramic mugs, porcelain plates are all unlikely sources of mental and emotional relief.

“We encourage people to scream into them, cry into them, write on them, whatever it is to literally and figuratively fill that cup up with emotion before they let it go,” said Demers. And shatter it into pieces against a brick wall.

Since Grievous Gallery opened last year, owners Tim and Elysia Demers have seen a lot of pain come through the doors. Depression, cancer, divorce, addiction, death. The reasons inked on the dinnerware and on a nearby table can be deep, painful and as dark as the atmosphere inside here.

“To be able to see it before they let it go and just watch it disappear, I think there’s something very cathartic about that for people,” said Demers.

“It’s like quick therapy,” said Emily Soward. The Salisbury woman comes here often. She’s in addiction recovery and enjoys the release.

On this trip, she brought her younger sister. “It was exhilarating but also relieving at the same time, you know what I mean? Because it’s like a physical way to take out how you’re feeling emotionally,” said Soward.

LEARN MORE: Grievous Gallery

The inspiration behind the business comes from similar pain and heartache for Tim and Elysia.

“It caused for some real life-changing moments.,” said Tim Demers. He suffered a traumatic brain injury while on the job in 2012.

“It really just changed our lives,” recalled Elysia. “One day it’s dad going off to work, a few hours later he’s being resuscitated in a parking lot.”

He was in rehab for 6 months.

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“There was a lot of frustration on both of our ends because I was trying to be the brave one and hold the family together,” said Elysia. “He’s frustrated because he’s trapped in a body he no longer can control.”

“I was just very frustrated, I couldn’t do these things anymore and well, you kind of start breaking things,” admitted Tim.

That’s when the Demers thought maybe others could use a similar release. It didn’t take long to see just how many people needed it.

From a couple with infidelity issues…

“They were able to put those on the plate and work through that together and leave it here,” remembered Elysia.

…to a mother grieving the loss of her son to suicide…

“There were screams and cries and it was heart-wrenching to hear a mother go through that,” said Elysia.

This place can help heal. But for the Demers, it can also haunt.

“It’s hard to come back here sometimes when we sift through the glass and we send it out,” said Elysia. “You see people’s hurts, you see people’s deep down secrets that they don’t share with their spouse or they don’t share with their pastor or their best friend, but they share it here.”

But it’s a weight they say they’re happy to carry if it helps others who could use a lighter load.

“The one thing I’ve learned is that everybody’s pain is exactly the same,” said Elysia. “It doesn’t matter if they lost their dog or they got laid off or their boyfriend broke up with them, it’s all exact same pain, it’s just in a different form.”

LEARN MORE: Grievous Gallery

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