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October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the University of Hawaiʻi PAU Violence System and partners will hold Brighter Together: A Virtual Candlelight Vigil on October 26, 6–7:30 p.m. The community is invited to come together to remember those who have been lost due to domestic violence and to support and celebrate those who survived.

“We hope to show those who face domestic violence that they are not alone, that there is help, that there is hope,” PAU Violence Program Coordinator Christopher Yanuaria said. “We hope that all will find the time to join us and aim to make awareness of this issue open and less of a taboo.”

In addition to the candlelight ceremony, the event will include commemorative performances, guest speakers, education and confidential advocacy services.

Uʻilani O’Hailpin’s story

Before becoming the confident person she is today with a successful seven-year marriage and the Mrs. Hawaiʻi United States 2020 crown, Uʻilani O’Hailpin spent 16 years in abusive relationships. Her last one ended in 2007, and although she found it difficult to leave, once she made the decision, she never looked back.

“That relationship completely broke me as a person,” she said. “It left me isolated from family and friends, with no self-esteem and confidence whatsoever.”

O’Hailpin credits involvement in her church and four years of counseling for helping her change her life.

“My counseling was so important in my healing journey,” she said. “Although it was hard at times, it allowed me to learn how to love myself again. I learned that my self worth was not dependent on what anyone said or thought about me. I learned how important it was to have self-worth, and self respect. Confidence started to exude as I began to develop my self esteem. Today, I am a very different woman from the woman I once was.”

Please know that you are loved, you are special, and you deserve so much more in life…your past does not determine your future!!
Uʻilani O’Hailpin

More than 1 in 3 women (34.7%) and 1 in 4 men (24.1%) in Hawaiʻi have experienced sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, according the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violence continues to ravage communities. This virtual vigil is an opportunity to unite the UH campuses and greater community to end domestic violence and envision a brighter future without violence.

“This candlelight vigil is so important to me, because it allows us to recognize the destructive cycle of abuse here in our islands,” O’Hailpin said. “By honoring and remembering the victims of abuse, we are able to acknowledge and identify those lives lost were not lost in vain.”

O’Hailpin has a message of support for anyone struggling with abuse. “Please know that you are loved, you are special, and you deserve so much more in life. Please get yourself into counseling, and surround yourself with loved ones and friends. Make a plan to get yourself safe (if needed). Stay strong. Make a decision to give yourself a better opportunity in life by getting out of the abuse. Remember this…your past does not determine your future!!”

If you are experiencing sex discrimination and/or gender-based violence (including sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, dating and domestic violence, stalking, sexual exploitation and sexual assault), you may contact the UH Office of Institutional Equity’s confidential advocate for your campus.

Register for the Brighter Together: A Virtual Candlelight Vigil online.

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