‘I’m a survivor’

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kumu Christy La‘amea Almeida leads Halau Ka Waikahe Lani Malie in the opening oli and hula Wednesday during the YWCA of Kauai candlelight vigil to remember victims of domestic violence and sexual assault at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Lihue.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Steven Dick, the YWCA of Kauai domestic violence and sexual assault services therapist, front right, joins a room full of candlelight Wednesday during the YWCA of Kauai candlelight vigil remembering victims of domestic violence and sexual assault at St. Michaels and All Angels Episcopal Church in Lihue.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A mother and child spend time reflecting outside the sanctuary Wednesday during the YWCA of Kauai candlelight vigil in remembrance of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Lihue.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Desiree Duclayan, center, a victim of domestic violence, is greeted and comforted by friends and supporters Wednesday during the YWCA of Kauai candlelight vigil remembrance of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Lihue.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Celeste Galloway reflects Wednesday during the moment of silence remembering victims of domestic violence and sexual assault during the YWCA candlelight vigil at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Lihue.

LIHUE — This year across Hawaii, five women and one man have died as a result of domestic violence. They were remembered Wednesday at the YWCA’s annual candlelight vigil.

“Women have to support women,” said Jennifer Higa, a visitor from California who attended the vigil at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.

“With all of the chaos that’s going on in the world, women have to be there for women, and this is not just a personal matter. It starts from community,” she said. “Society that says domestic violence won’t be tolerated, not in this community. That’s how it’s supposed to be.”

Brian Kohatsu, licensed clinical social worker, said the thing that needs to change in order to end domestic violence is men.

“If that doesn’t change, we will have vigils forever,” he said.

His passion is to help men find their way, find their truth, so they can stand up and say that they’ve changed.

“All of that pride, all of that masculinity that I was told as a man, that has to change,” Kohatsu said.

This year’s vigil theme was “Out of the Shadows and Into the Light.”

Desiree Duclayan, 51, described how she survived growing up in an abusive home and then two abusive marriages.

What got her through her first marriage was writing down mantras on her mirror like, “I am good,” “I am beautiful,” and “I’m smart.”

It wasn’t long after her second marriage began that she realized the same patterns of abuse starting and decided to get help because she wanted something different for her daughter.

“I’m a survivor,” she said.

This year on Kauai, two women lost their lives to domestic violence: Charlene Landsman, 69, and Janice Valerie, 50.

On May 17 Kauai police were called to First Hawaiian Bank on Rice Street in response to an incident and found Kapaa resident Landsman on the floor suffering from stab wounds. She was transported to Wilcox Medical Center where she was pronounced dead. Her son Louis Landsman is charged with her death.

On Aug. 29, police were called to a home in Kekaha after receiving a call that there was a shooting. When they arrived, they discovered the body of 50-year old Janice Valerie, who was shot and killed by her husband, who was also found deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“It’s with one voice that we loudly proclaim #metoo. It is with a loud voice that we proclaim #webelive survivors. And it’s with a loud voice we proclaim #timesup,” said YWCA Executive Director Renee Hamilton-Cambeilh.

Hamilton-Cambeilh implored the crowd of about 100 people to make a commitment, big or small, to do something daily that will make Kauai safer.

County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar said he has the opportunity to help those who are experiencing domestic violence.

The state’s statutes regarding domestic violence are a mess and need to be overhauled, he said.

“Whether we know it or not, each person is affected directly or indirectly by this,” Kollar said.

“We need to build a system that serves victims,” he said.

Kollar said lawmakers have the power to build that system.

“We have to take this problem seriously and do something about it in the next session,” he said.

Pat Gegen’s daughter Olivia was playing the violin prior to the service. Through tears, the father of four women said he worries about all of his daughters.

His family runs a home health care business and he said many of their patients have been affected by domestic violence.

“I just wish there wouldn’t be as much violence in the world and, unfortunately, it tends to be those who are the most vulnerable,” he said.

•••

Bethany Freudenthal, crime, courts and county reporter, can be reached at 652-7891 or bfreudenthal@thegardenisland.com.

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