Domestic Violence does not define you.
Many years ago, I was in an abusive relationship. I’ve since learned a lot about relationships and a lot about myself.
One of the most important things I learned is that domestic violence does not define me. If you’re in such a relationship, it does not define you.
And it does not define the two remarkable women who are my co-chairs for the Domestic Violence Action Center’s 25th Anniversary Gala—Dr. Jackie Young and Annelle Amaral.
Amaral, a former state representative, police officer and public servant extraordinaire, says it’s personal for her.
“I was a child witness of domestic violence, a third-grader standing between my step-father and mother, trying to stop him from hitting her. You cannot grow up with the circumstance of violence in your only safe place, a sense of powerlessness…with the people who are supposed to care for you appearing out of control.”– Annelle Amaral
“Why do I work on this issue? I work on this issue to heal the child that was witness to the violence. It is my attempt to take back my power and empower others.”
Dr. Jackie Young has never let her past define her, not sexual abuse and not cancer. And she’s made it her life’s mission to crusade against violence. It’s personal for her, too.
“When I was a state legislator in the 1990s the horrific murder of Cathie Carvalho from Waimanalo led our group of women legislators, including Annelle Amaral, Cynthia Thielen, Ann Kobayashi, and Mazie Hirono, to successfully pass a Crimes Against Women package of legislation that brought needed attention to this issue.
“Today the numbers of domestic violence cases are still staggering and continue to scar our community by harming everyone in the family.
“Why am I involved? I’m optimistic. I’ve personally experienced sexual violence as a teenager. It took me years to be able to regain my self-confidence and to forgive the perpetrator but in the process I learned that love shouldn’t hurt and that when we learn to appreciate and understand each other we will have peace and harmony in our lives.”– Jackie Young
It’s personal for me, too.
I’m honored to stand with these women. And I understand how critically important it is to reach out to those whose health and lives are at risk.
I was in an abusive relationship for five years. When I finally realized I had to get out, I had no idea how to do it. I had no one, I thought, to help me. It was hard. It was scary.
You may have heard that the most dangerous time for a woman in an abusive relationship is when she’s trying to leave. I can tell you first hand it’s true.
I did everything wrong and I put myself at even greater risk before I made it out.
I wish I’d known then what I know now. I could have avoided making so many mistakes.
The Art of Peace
Through my association with DVAC, I now understand how important it is for girls and women—and male victims, too– to have a place to turn to for shelter, a plan of action and follow up with experts who can make the transition safe, and who know how to navigate a confusing social and legal system.
I’ve learned how important it is to educate everyone about domestic violence, what it is, who it can affect (everyone) and where they can turn for help.
Nanci Kreidman is CEO of DVAC and has been advocating for victims and survivors for years.
“The work underway by the community, and the DVAC, has been extensive and inspired. There is still so much more to do,” she says.
“That’s because despite the programs that have been born (statewide) and the dollars invested, and the laws passed, and the police trained, and the courts trying perpetrators, victims and survivors are still ashamed of the abuse they suffer. They still believe it is their fault.”
Kreidman says the social messaging has to change. Women are still objectified and violence and the glorification of violence are still prevalent in our culture.
“If we believe safe families are at the core of a healthy community we have to act like it,” says Kreidman. “Make the money follow our beliefs. Shift our values so all lives are precious and no one should be afraid at home.”
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. The DVAC’s 25th anniversary gala– The Art of Peace— is October 17. It’s going to be a magical night, and if you’d like more information or would like to buy tickets just go to http://www.domesticviolenceactioncenter.org/.
I hope to see you there.