The 28th annual Men’s March Against Violence started outside the steps of Honolulu Hale, and for the first time since the pandemic, involved groups marching in the streets on October 6. Roughly 100 men participated in the 2022 March Against Violence.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 10 million women and men are physically abused by an intimate partner each year.
The traditional route going down Beretania, Bishop and King Streets is one Jerris Hedges, dean of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), has walked down before in previous marches. His upbringing has led him to become one of the many community leaders involved in the Men’s March year after year.
“When I grew up, my brother, mother and I dealt with a father who used violence to address some of the issues he had,” Hedges stated during his news interviews that previewed the march. “He had a tendency toward violence, but he also had a severe health condition that made it difficult for him to do daily activities, and he was also dealing with psychological and physical stressors in his life. It’s not too dissimilar from what many families who have domestic violence issues have to deal with.”
For his tireless commitment, Hedges was honored this year by the Domestic Violence Action Center with the “Distinguished Citizen of the Year” award.
The Men’s March Against Violence Committee noted the “significant difference” Hedges made at an institutional and community level throughout his tenure as dean. Organizers expressed gratitude for the “earnest, important and inspired way Hedges addresses domestic violence and demonstrates his convictions about this problem to the community, colleagues and Hawaiʻi’s health care systems.”
“I’m very pleased to receive this recognition, but I realize I’m receiving it on behalf of the entire University of Hawaiʻi’s efforts and, in particular, that of the medical school’s efforts to contribute to domestic violence awareness,” Hedges said.
Training future doctors to recognize signs
Since being appointed JABSOM dean 14 years ago, Hedges prioritized training future doctors to recognize the warning signs of domestic violence and how to intervene properly.
“It’s one of the things I try to share with our medical students each year as we organize and work with other parts of the University of Hawaiʻi,” he said.
The annual march is always a somber one. Keliʻi Beyer from the Domestic Violence Action Center charted all the fatal domestic violence events in Hawaiʻi since the previous march, and asked the audience on the Honolulu Hale grounds to never forget the names of the victims. After the sobering reminder that domestic violence is a problem that needs to be addressed, Hedges asked men, in particular, to step up.
“Most perpetrators of domestic violence are men. As men, we need to establish good role models to not only help men who may try to solve their problems through violence but understand that there’s a better way,” said Hedges.
This was the last march Hedges will attend as JABSOM dean. He is preparing to retire next year, however, since he will continue to call Hawaiʻi home, he pledges this year’s march won’t be his last.
“Families can stand up and do things to support those who suffer from domestic violence. It’s essential,” said Hedges.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact the Domestic Violence Action Center’s helpline at (808) 531-3771 or visit DomesticViolenceActionCenter.org.