Changing Hawaii

By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Friday, April 30, 1999

A tribute to
victims of crime

THANK goodness, it's the end of April. This is my least favorite month since a lot of terrible things seem to converge into these measly 30 days.

It's when state and federal income taxes are due. Immense human tragedies occur, like in Kosovo and Littleton, Colo.

And we all know what happened on Wednesday at the state Capitol, when the Senate scoffed at public opinion and refused to confirm Margery Bronster as attorney general. Budget director Earl Anzai got the ol' heave-ho, too.

One of the most depressing events of April occurred on that same afternoon. As Bronster and Anzai sat in the Capitol rotunda, listening to senators pan and praise them, a small-scale but intense event was taking place a few blocks away at the Honolulu Hale courtyard.

In recognition of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, four women -- each a survivor of a horrific crime -- bravely took the microphone to echo the theme of the commemorative tribute, "Victims' Voices: Silent No More."

Bullet Tara W. shared the impact of her sister's baby being shaken to death in April 1998 by her sister's boyfriend. Her sister no longer laughs or cries, and in fact avoids Tara, who is pregnant with her second child. Tara's rotund tummy only reminds her sister of her own irrevocable loss.
Bullet Anne L. told of the domestic abuse she suffered at the hands of her former husband. It culminated one New Year's Eve when, in a drunken stupor, he pushed her out of their moving car. She lost the use of her legs and needs a motorized wheelchair to get around. While Anne's smile is blindingly bright, her kids are still haunted by her maiming.
Bullet Niki R. was raped 25 years ago. She thought she had "gotten over it" but -- on reading newspaper clippings and court documents in preparation for her speech -- she cried for two days. Niki detailed the impact of the crime physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. She described her revictimization by the doctor and nurse who examined her after the rape, by authorities who investigated and eventually brought the rapist to trial, and finally by the justice system that found the assailant not guilty.
Bullet Carole A. spoke on behalf of her daughter, who at the age of five was molested by a family member. Carole talked about the struggle to stay strong for her child, who like most keiki is remarkably resilient. But Carole, who was also battered by the same man, still aches for her daughter's suffering.

AS the women shared their pain, they reminded the law-enforcement and government officials in the audience that those who experience crime don't want to be called victims; they want to be known as survivors, because they triumphed despite adversity.

That's comforting for what could be considered the biggest group of victims in this state -- those who actually fell for the line that the Legislature was going to demonstrate some real leadership and dig us out of this economic quagmire.

Instead, the Senate majority committed a crime against public opinion, by resorting to vindictive, self-serving politics on the governor's top two cabinet posts. How disgusting that these folks are in power because they won at the polls.

April is my least favorite month of the year. My second least favorite is November, especially around Election Day. Hawaii's remorseful voters: victims or survivors?

Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at, or by fax at 523-7863.

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