HONORING VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of two stories about domestic violence on Kaua’i

LIHU’E — Candles were lit Wednesday to honor victims of domestic violence during the YWCA of Kaua’i’s annual vigil that was held at St. Michael & All Angels’ Episcopal Church.

According to YWCA officials, violence against women is the No. 1 cause of injury to women. Every 15 seconds, a woman is battered by her husband, boyfriend, or live-in partner.

During the vigil, survivors spoke up, to share how they overcame abuse.

Patricia, a survivor, said that the shame eventually faded.

“I have control of my life. Now, I am proud of who I am, and nobody can take that away from me,” she said.

According to YWCA officials, 75 percent of the victims of domestic violence homicides are killed after leaving the relationships.

Millie, another survivor, shared her story with the approximately 150 adults who were at the vigil.

“I didn’t know it was abuse,” she said. “It wasn’t abuse to me that I gave him my paychecks,” she said.

Millie said she did not recognize that she was in an abusive relationship.

“If he yelled at me, it was love. If he hit me, it was love. Everything he did, it was for love,” she said.

She said he took away her identity.

“I had no other thoughts other than to make him happy. Everything about that relationship wasn’t abuse to me,” said Millie.

She said she woke up when her children arrived.

“My babies made me step out. There is nothing in the world that would make me keep them in that kind of surrounding,” she said.

Millie said the YWCA leaders made her realize that she was in an abusive relationship.

“It took the YWCA to make me admit what abuse was, because I did not believe it was abuse,” she said.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

According to YWCA officials, 50 percent of homeless women and their children are homeless because they are fleeing domestic violence, usually because they have left the home where the abuse was taking place and have nowhere else to live, or go.

Also, according to officials, one out of four girls will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18.

Additionally, say the officials, one out of six boys will be sexually exploited before their 18th birthday.

On average, say YWCA officials, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country every day.

The YWCA has a Family Violence Shelter. The number is 245-6362.

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