KAILUA-KONA — People of all ages took to the streets Thursday in a stand against domestic violence.
Dozens of supporters waved signs, lit candles and listened to speakers Thursday at the Domestic Violence Family Walk and Vigil on Alii Drive as a way to raise awareness of the troubling societal problem.
“We’re here to support survivors, raise awareness and provide education and outreach,” said Kai McBride, one of more than 50 people who came out for the event Thursday evening at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Kailua-Kona.
Also during the event, the Purple Ribbon Award was given to Charlene Edayan. Edayan, known as “the beacon of light,” has served as the domestic violence specialist at the West Hawaii Shelter since 2005.
“Today is to bring community awareness and honor worker heroes,” said event coordinator Christina Esham, with Child and Family Services.
Organized by the Hawaii County Family Violence Interagency Committee — composed of more than 50 agencies and organizations from around Hawaii Island — the event is held annually during October, which has been designated Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month has grown from a single Day of Unity conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in October 1981. The day was set aside to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children, according to YWCA USA.
In 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. In 1989, Congress designated by law October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another, according to the coalition. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse.
On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, according to the coalition. In a year’s time, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
In a single day in Hawaii, according to the coalition, domestic violence programs serve 505 victims.
“You deserve more love than being hurt,” said 14-year-old Liana Kelen.
If you need help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit www.domesticshelters.org. In the event of an emergency, call police at 9-1-1.
To learn more about domestic violence, visit https://ncadv.org/learn-more.