Group Gathers for Annual Domestic Violence Vigil

October 18, 2019, 7:50 AM HST (Updated October 18, 2019, 8:30 AM)
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  • Crowd gathered on Ali'i Drive to wave signs and bring awareness to domestic violence on Oct. 17 in front of St. Michael's Church. (PC: Tiffany DeMasters)
  • Hawai'i County Prosecutor Attorney Mitch Roth reads proclamation from Mayor Harry Kim declaring October to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month on the lanai of St. Michael's Church on Oct. 17. (PC:Tiffany DeMasters)
  • Group gathered for annual domestic violence vigil on Oct. 17 shows off their signs in front of St. Michael's church. (PC:Tiffany DeMasters)
  • Butterflies were released as part of the vigil on Oct. 17 at St. Michael's Church. (PC:Tiffany DeMasters)
  • Crowd gathered on Ali'i Drive to wave signs and bring awareness to domestic violence on Oct. 17 in front of St. Michael's Church. (PC: Tiffany DeMasters)
  • Crowd gathered on Ali'i Drive to wave signs and bring awareness to domestic violence on Oct. 17 in front of St. Michael's Church. (PC: Tiffany DeMasters)
  • Butterflies were released as part of the vigil on Oct. 17 at St. Michael's Church. (PC:Tiffany DeMasters)
  • First Deputy Prosecutor Dale Ross accepts Purple Ribbon award at annual domestic violence vigil on Oct. 17 at St. Michael's Church. (PC: Tiffany DeMasters)
  • First Deputy Prosecutor Dale Ross waves a sign for the annual domestic violence vigil event on Oct. 17 on Ali'i Drive. (PC:Tiffany DeMasters)
  • Butterflies were released as part of the vigil on Oct. 17 at St. Michael's Church. (PC:Tiffany DeMasters)
  • Crowd gathered on Ali'i Drive to wave signs and bring awareness to domestic violence on Oct. 17 in front of St. Michael's Church. (PC: Tiffany DeMasters)
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    • Crowd gathered on Ali'i Drive to wave signs and bring awareness to domestic violence on Oct. 17 in front of St. Michael's Church. (PC: Tiffany DeMasters)
    • Hawai'i County Prosecutor Attorney Mitch Roth reads proclamation from Mayor Harry Kim declaring October to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month on the lanai of St. Michael's Church on Oct. 17. (PC:Tiffany DeMasters)
    • Group gathered for annual domestic violence vigil on Oct. 17 shows off their signs in front of St. Michael's church. (PC:Tiffany DeMasters)
    • Butterflies were released as part of the vigil on Oct. 17 at St. Michael's Church. (PC:Tiffany DeMasters)
    • Crowd gathered on Ali'i Drive to wave signs and bring awareness to domestic violence on Oct. 17 in front of St. Michael's Church. (PC: Tiffany DeMasters)
    • Crowd gathered on Ali'i Drive to wave signs and bring awareness to domestic violence on Oct. 17 in front of St. Michael's Church. (PC: Tiffany DeMasters)
    • Butterflies were released as part of the vigil on Oct. 17 at St. Michael's Church. (PC:Tiffany DeMasters)
    • First Deputy Prosecutor Dale Ross accepts Purple Ribbon award at annual domestic violence vigil on Oct. 17 at St. Michael's Church. (PC: Tiffany DeMasters)
    • First Deputy Prosecutor Dale Ross waves a sign for the annual domestic violence vigil event on Oct. 17 on Ali'i Drive. (PC:Tiffany DeMasters)
    • Butterflies were released as part of the vigil on Oct. 17 at St. Michael's Church. (PC:Tiffany DeMasters)
    • Crowd gathered on Ali'i Drive to wave signs and bring awareness to domestic violence on Oct. 17 in front of St. Michael's Church. (PC: Tiffany DeMasters)

The normally bustling Ali‘i Drive was crowded by a group of men, women and children in front of St. Michael’s Church, throwing shakas and smiles to passersby as they waved signs to bring awareness to domestic violence.

The group stood in solidarity Thursday night to honor survivors of domestic violence and to remember those who lost their lives to it as part of the annual domestic violence vigil.

“We put on this event to bring awareness,” said Christina Basham, program director for domestic violence and sexual assault treatment with Child and Family Services. “Domestic violence is everywhere, sometimes people don’t even know it.”

Members of the Hawai‘i County Prosecutor’s Office, Hope Services, CFS and the community came out to support the event. Marina O’Brien-Gamble was out waving signs were her two young children.

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“It’s important to raise our keiki to teach what is OK and what’s not OK,” O’Brien-Gamble said. “It’s about educating and breaking the cycle of violence.”

Hawai‘i County Prosecutor Mitch Roth was also part of the group. Domestic violence, he explained, is linked to various other issues including drug abuse, sexual abuse, crime, etc.

“If we’re going to do something about crime we have to do something about domestic violence,” Roth said. “It’s not just a women’s issue, it’s a community issue.”

The group eventually walked to the lanai of St. Miachael’s Church for the remainder of the event. Proclamations from Gov. David Ige and Mayor Harry Kim were read, declaring October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

On the Big Island alone, 400 women are taken in at domestic violence shelters every year. As the vigil took a moment of silence for those who’ve lost their lives, the organizers had a message of hope.

Standing on the lanai of the church, the group released a handful of butterflies, a gesture that no victim of domestic violence has to stay that way. There is hope and change in the future.

“When you ask for the help, it’s there,” said Aurora Delaries, domestic violence specialist with CFS. “When you’re ready for the help, it’s there.”

This year, First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Dale Ross was the recipient of the Purple Ribbon award.

Roth said most people don’t even know what Ross does as she is responsible for the funds awarded the prosecutor’s office through grant monies.

Because of Ross’s work in prosecuting sexual assault, the prosecutor’s office has a team dedicated to prosecuting such crimes.

Ross said she didn’t feel deserving of the award, but was humbled to received it.

“It’s a lot of hard work and hands to have a peaceful community,” Ross said.

As a community, she added, “we have to hope to aspire to live without domestic violence.”

“Until then, we just have to keep working hard,” she said.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat. Tiffany is an award-winning journalist, receiving recognition from the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. Tiffany grew up on the Big Island and is passionate about telling the community’s stories.
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