dara_carlin_maui_mothers_dayMother's Day is fast approaching, this Sunday, May 8th - time to buy "the perfect card", send some flowers, make brunch reservations or dinner plans!

Our earliest recollections of Mother's Day likely include memories of construction paper cards made at school, held together with Elmer's glue, written in crayon or magic marker and perhaps a little glitter; flowers hand-picked from a neighbor's yard and noble attempts at making a pancake breakfast in bed. Even though these efforts were done for Mom, the reward was actually ours as we waited in excited anticipation of her response: the smile that makes you swell with pride knowing you did good and the embrace of unconditional love that only a mother's arms can provide.

For victims and survivors of abuse, however, these memories are only hopes and dreams - Mother's Day for those impacted by domestic violence and child abuse is an annual day of agony where outstretched arms remain empty and feelings of isolation, loneliness and loss are all-consuming. For mothers and children who have lost each other through domestic violence, Mother's Day is particularly excruciating as the day will hold a very painful journey to a gravesite where regrets and even happy memories will torment those left behind.

Death is not the only way that mothers and their children are separated through domestic violence however. For those moms "lucky" enough to have "successfully escaped" domestic violence, too many lose custody of their children to their abusers in subsequent child custody and visitation proceedings in family court. The Leadership Council http://www.leadershipcouncil.org conservatively estimates that 58,000 children PER YEAR are ordered into UNsupervised contact with physically or sexually abusive parents following divorce in the United States.

While Hawaii has some of the best domestic violence statutes in the country (like 571-46(9) that I mentioned in a previous article which says a perpetartor of family violence should not be awarded sole or joint custody of the children) the problem is that domestic violence is either ignored, marginalized, minimized or litigated away so the statutes designed to protect women and children from ongoing abuse never get applied. The result is that domestic violence survivor moms - some of the best and most protective parents around - become childless after having their children (sometimes literally) ripped away from them.

This Sunday, May 8th, I will be joining a group of domestic violence survivor moms and their supporters on Maui from 9:00am - 12:00pm in the K-Mart parking lot at the corner of Haleakala Highway and Dairy Road for a sign waving and peaceful demonstration calling attention to motherless children and childless mothers taken away from each other through domestic violence and/or family court proceedings that ignored evidence of abuse.

PLEASE put on some purple (the color that represents domestic violence) and come out to join us or give a drive-by and a honk to let these brave and protective parents know that your heart is with them. A petition will be circulated demanding that the law be applied and adhered to in cases of violence and abuse so that the children born into such situations will remain in the arms of their protective parent rather then the clutches of an abuser.

The event on Maui will be in solidarity with the Mothers of Lost Children http://www.mothers-of-lost-children.com/ speakout and candlelight vigil in front of the White House in Washington, DC that will begin just as our Maui event ends (6:00 - 9:30pm Eastern Standard Time). To see last year's White House event, go to: http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-442413

On Monday, May 9th, moms and their supporters will be gathering in Sacramento, CA outside of the State Capitol to call attention to the broken family and juvenile court systems which harm victims of domestic violence and child abuse. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/may92011march/

So please come join us and help to spread the word to show your support for our makuahine and keiki this Mother's Day so that by next Mother's Day, outstretched arms may be received by embraces.

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