Aumua Amata: Domestic violence goes against the Samoan way
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A rally against Domestic Violence is being held this morning, June 10, 2019, at 6 a.m in Fagatogo — organized by supporters to speak out against is the issue of breaking silence on domestic violence — an issue that has come to the forefront of our community this month.
Congresswoman Aumua Amata was invited to speak at the rally and has prepared the following remarks:
In American Samoa we value our way. We don't change easily, that's one of our strengths! Even as the world changes, and technology grows, we value traditions and our ancient culture; we honor elders. Our way is good. At the same time, it must never be misunderstood and used wrongly and falsely to cover up something bad. Domestic violence goes against the Samoan way. Fa'aSamoa conveys honor and dignity, never shame.
For years, in the U.S. across much of the world even today, and here, domestic violence has existed sometimes just out of sight. It can be hidden away near us, or sometimes, very sadly even blamed on the victim. Thankfully, this is changing, and this change is good. Now, people are prosecuted. Abuse is covered by the news. Make no mistake, domestic violence is a crime, and we have a duty to prevent it.
The law and the courts take domestic violence very seriously now. But the best defense is you, all of us. You know your family, your village. You often know how when something isn't right. Care enough to take care of someone who is vulnerable to abuse. Talk to them. Talk to someone who can help. A chief, a pastor, an officer of the law. God put a special responsibility on these leaders to protect and help those in need.
If you are a victim of abuse, we want you to be safe and there is help, even government programs and charity organizations that can make sure you have somewhere to go, food or health care. Don't let embarrassment or fear stop you, and don't let an abuser convince you that it's your fault. No one, no family or person in authority, has the right to hit you or hurt you. Talk to someone you can trust, and change your future.
(Editor’s Note: I attended the the FMHS commencement graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 8, 2019, where the Valedictorian Carl Balauro spoke out about domestic violence. He spoke about how it had affected his life — a personal journey of triumph and love. I applaud Balauro’s ‘breaking silence’ about this issue and was struck how courageous he was to make it an issue that highlighted the women in his life — his mother, sister, nieces and aunts — and how they made him the ‘upstanding young man’ he is today and into the future. ra)