House Bill 2133, Relating to Domestic Violence, officially became Act 073 this afternoon when Governor Neil Abercrombie signed it into law in his state capitol office in front of a crowd of advocates against domestic violence, DV community leaders and state legislators committed to seeing an end to DV in Hawaii.
HB 2133 (now Act 073) is about Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the state of Hawaii that says:
The month of October shall be known and designated as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” to promote public awareness of domestic violence as a significant societal, public health and criminal justice problem.
Then there’s a caveat that says:
This month is not and shall not be construed as a state holiday.
Sad that that line needed to be added but you just KNOW there are people out there who would try to use the month of October as a legal reason to go holoholo for the month if it wasn’t blatantly stated, you know?
Actually that’s an issue my husband and I were discussing over dinner tonight: today’s work ethic. I don’t know whether it was the “time” or my upbringing but I was taught that work isn’t over until it’s completed NOT because “it’s time to go”. It’s upsetting to think that some people would even try to “take advantage” but those people are out there so if it isn’t stated, that can be twisted around and turned into someone’s court case so while there were chuckles over the state holiday caveat, in today’s society it’s actually necessary. Governor Abercrombie had a different take on it though saying that a “holiday” designation often leads to a diminishment and misdirection of the holiday’s intent – much like how Christ has been taken out of Christmas and replaced by materialism – sales, specials and Santa Claus (my example).
I initially met Governor (then-Congressman) Abercrombie at the very start of my DV Survivor Advocacy efforts (actually, that particular trip put me into my fateful contact with Jessica Lenahan of “Gonzales vs. Castle Rock” infamy which is was what led me into doing what I do) in April of 2006. As you’ll see in the 2006 photo, I didn’t even know that purple was the color that represented domestic violence and I was just following Stacey Moniz and Monique Yamashita’s lead (from Maui’s Women Helping Women) http://www.whwmaui.net/ trying to figure out what the heck I was doing.
Stacey, Monique and I had been educating our state congressional representatives about VAWA (the Violence Against Women Act in part penned by our now VP, Joe Biden) and I recall being impressed by how much our now-governor knew about domestic violence; like he was actually “on it”.
Well, I gotta tell ya – time and space have made no difference where Governor Abercrombie is concerned. Pointing specifically to the “public health” mention in the Act he spoke eloquently, knowledgably and amazingly in length (he almost could’ve even competed with me!) about the impact of domestic violence on our people and thanked those who made this signing possible.
While he acknowledged that Act 073 is nothing to really be “celebrated” per se because of what it’s calling to attention, he said he is happy for the visibility this Act will have and is hopeful that attention to domestic violence in Hawaii will help to end it.
Awareness, Education & Change– it’s the magic formula and it sounds like we’re on our way there!