Group Gathers for Annual Domestic Violence Vigil
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.
“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.