October has been declared Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Maui County.
According to a recent story in The Maui News, there were 4,753 abuse incidents last year in our county reported to police. That is a 7.3 percent increase from 2011. There were 1,320 cases of actual physical abuse reported.
Domestic violence can occur between spouses, adults and children, and adults versus the elderly.
Wednesday night a candlelight vigil was held to remember the 101 fatal victims of domestic violence in Hawaii since 1996. Lucy Feinberg, Maui regional director of Parents and Children Together (PACT), told the assemblage:
"We have to create a peer culture that says domestic or gender violence is wrong and unacceptable. We have to get to the point where powerful men prioritize this as an issue. We need leadership training in our institutions, including education, sports, faith-based - anywhere that people meet - to ensure that these beliefs are no longer tolerated."
An important thing to remember if you or an acquaintance is a victim of domestic violence is that there is help. In addition to police, PACT (244-2330) and Women Helping Women (579-9581, 24 hours a day) can provide aid during these difficult days. Women Helping Women runs a shelter to protect victims.
When we were growing up in a very small town, domestic violence seemed a rare occurrence. We remember an instance where a prominent citizen was prosecuted for assaulting his wife. He was vilified by the community.
Perhaps reporting of domestic violence is simply more prominent, but just glancing at court stories in The Maui News, it seems to be at almost epidemic proportions.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a good time to review what has happened to society's mores that lets so many believe it is OK to assault a loved one.
It is never acceptable and society's treatment of those who engage in such acts needs to make that clear.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.