HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For about two hundred people in Honolulu, Valentine's Day was more than just a romantic day. It was a day to increase awareness about violence against women in Hawaii.
It was part of a movement called "One Billion Rising." Honolulu's gathering at Magic Island was just one of hundreds held in U.S. cities, including San Francisco and New York. Events were also held worldwide, even in Sochi, Russia, near the Winter Olympics.
One Billion Rising is not a fundraiser, although donations were being accepted.
"I'm trying to raise awareness by talking about it," said organizer Holly Holowach. "An end to violence begins with an end to silence. If we don't start talking about it, it will never end."
"Everyone has the right to live without harm or the fear of harm within a home and within relationships. That's the bottom line," Gov. Neil Abercrombie told the gathering.
To show their support, the group formed the number "1" for an aerial photo, snapped from a helicopter. They also formed a heart for another photo.
They did this as the heartache lingers over the deaths of Brittney Jane Royal on the Big Island; Janine Meyer, whose body was found in a dumpster in Waikiki last November; and Mary Beth San Juan at her Punahou home, among others. All the deaths were allegedly at the hands of men.
"I mean, we've had all these things in this year since I started Rising and doing One Billion Rising and seeing what was out there. And I said we need to have a voice," said Holowach.
The event comes as domestic violence cases rise and funding for services falls.
"Our shelters are at full capacity right now, so that's a good sign. That means that victims are getting the help and services they need," said Marci Lopes of Parents and Children Together. "But it's also saying that there's an epidemic going on."
It's an epidemic organizers and participants hope to stem before the next Valentine's Day.