During National Domestic Violence Month, UH Hilo student and employee advocates raise awareness

Domestic violence rates on Hawai‘i Island are twice the national average, making this problem even more detrimental to local communities.

By Susan Enright.

Libby Bailey, Jennifer Stotter, Kimberlee Staats, Destiny Rodriguez, Gail Makuakāne-Lundin, Kathryn Besio, Kaleihiʻiikapoli Rapoza, and Zachary "Zach" Street.
Several of UH Hilo’s most visible advocates for equal rights gathered for a photo last Thursday to show their support for raising awareness about domestic violence. (Left to right) Libby Bailey, Title IX Coordinator; Jennifer Stotter, Director of the Office of Equal Employment and Affirmative Action; Kimberlee Staats, student; Destiny Rodriguez, Confidential Advocate and Prevention Educator; Gail Makuakāne-Lundin, Interim Executive Assistant to the Chancellor and Director of Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center; Kathryn Besio, Professor of Geography and Environmental Science; Kaleihiʻiikapoli Rapoza, Interim Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs; and Zachary Street, Director of Admissions. In foreground is a flag display to raise awareness about domestic violence statistics; on the Hawai‘i Island, the domestic violence rates are twice the national average. Photo by Kimiko Taguchi, click to enlarge.

To honor and commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Office of Equal Employment and Affirmative Action (EEOAA), the Women’s Center and other groups at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo have put on a series of events throughout the month.

“The month-long event we are having this semester is our flag display by the University Classroom Building turnaround,” says Destiny Rodriguez, confidential advocate and prevention educator at the UH Hilo EEOAA office.

The flag display is similar to the Sexual Assault Awareness Flag Display last April, but this time the university is raising awareness regarding domestic violence. Each day, three flags are added to the display to remember the three women who are murdered each day by a former or current intimate partner.

“This visual representation shows some of the effects that domestic violence can have in our community,” says Rodriguez. “On the Big Island, our domestic violence rates are twice the national average, making this problem even more detrimental to our community. By having a visual representation, we hope that our UH Hilo community can see what a big problem this is for all of us.”

She adds, “It is important to know that we can all be effected by domestic violence in some form and we should continue to support survivors.”

Several of the campus’s most visible advocates wore purple last Thursday to show their support for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“By having our community wear purple, we hope to show that there are supporters throughout our campus and that we recognize that addressing domestic violence is a group effort,” explains Rodriguez.


About the writer of this story: Susan Enright is a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.