UH med school dean shares personal domestic violence story - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

UH med school dean shares personal domestic violence story

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Jerris Hedges, dean of the John A. Burns School of Medicine, preaches an end to domestic violence. And it starts with men.
"We have an obligation as peers to reach out to other men and explain that violence isn't necessary, that we can deal with things in other ways," he said.

As a young emergency room doctor, he treated abuse victims with empathy born out of personal experience.

"My father was someone who did care about his family," he said.  "But he had a difficult time coping and dealing with the stresses that many people have to deal with day in and day out."

Hedges' father had chronic health problems and a short fuse.  He dished out verbal and physical abuse.

"In my case there were both. But the emotional was the part that stays with you. I think there were times or circumstances that each of us was the primary focus, but I think my mother had the most difficult time," he said.

Relatives and friends offered safe haven and support.

"We dealt with it. We adapted. But it was challenging," Hedges said.

In his case, life presented an opportunity to right a wrong.

"As a medical student I diagnosed my father's heart problem, got him the attention he needed, got his heart valve replaced." Hedges said.  "His whole outlook on life and his interaction with family changed dramatically."

After his father died, it got easier to speak openly about his experience, and he made a vow.

"One of my life goals, interestingly, when I was still in high school, was to be a better father even though I didn't know when that would be," he said.
Hedges is again serving as chairman of the Men's March Against Violence. It begins at noon Thursday at the State Capitol rotunda.

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