PHOTOS BY CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
About 100 people participated yesterday in the 13th Annual Men's March Against Domestic Violence, which left the state Capitol and went down South Beretania, Alapai and South King streets and back to the Capitol, to raise awareness of the issue of domestic violence and honor those who have died or survived abuse.
Abuse happens ‘in Plain Sight’
A film featuring local celebs targets domestic violence
Viewers of a new DVD titled "Hiding in Plain Sight" might be surprised, even shocked, at the people featured.
They include noted runner Connie Comiso, former TV news anchor Jade Moon, former state Sen. Matt Matsunaga, Wendie McClain, whose husband, David, is University of Hawaii president, and former Miss Hawaii Elizabeth Lindsey.
They share personal experiences with domestic abuse, Comiso and Moon as survivors, and others who had family members in violent or abusive intimate relationships.
The Domestic Violence Action Center -- formerly Domestic Violence Clearinghouse and Legal Hotline -- produced the film as part of a public awareness campaign.
The center wants to show it throughout the community to emphasize that physical, mental and emotional abuse from partners does not happen only to homeless, undereducated and low-income families and substance abusers.
It also happens to educated and accomplished women in middle- and upper-income families, and it is likely to be underreported, said Nanci Kreidman, the center's executive director.
The shame, embarrassment and fear are so great that victims remain silent, she said. "They don't want anyone to know."
Kreidman was among speakers at a conference yesterday focusing on what she said is an overlooked "constituency of victims."
The Queen's Medical Center and Domestic Violence Action Center sponsored the event in recognition of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Shame and denial are common among victims of partner abuse and even stronger among college-educated women in upper socioeconomic families, Kreidman said. "Fear of exposure is unimaginable."
They are afraid that if they tell anyone about the abuse, it will get worse, or it would hurt their career or their husband's, she said.
Kreidman, who has worked to help domestic violence victims for 30 years, said there is a myth that educated people with resources should be able to leave an abusive situation.
Abusers "have lots and lots of power" and control financial resources, she said. "It's daunting to victims. Economics has a lot to do with higher-income women staying in a relationship. Fears of impoverishment are real."
Often, women do not take steps to leave until children are affected, she said.
Dr. Diane Thompson, medical director of Queen's Women's Health Center, described the psychological and emotional effects of domestic violence on women and their children.
Symptoms of depression and anxiety are common, she said. Medical disorders affect a woman's memory, self-esteem and energy, making it even more difficult to escape, she said.
To report an abusive situation or request a showing of the film "Hiding in Plain Sight," call the Domestic Violence Action Center, 531-3771.