Bon Voisin Fund: a woman seeks peace in the face of domestic violence
Paddy De Luna and her baby daughter slowly find peace and order in their lives, relieved that her husband is in prison awaiting trial for domestic violence.
She returned to work full time, paid off the debts he had accumulated on his credit cards, and filed for divorce. But it will be a long time before De Luna recovers from the emotional turmoil of his short marriage.
She said the only good thing about their relationship was that it only took a few months for the nightmare to end.
It started in August 2020. “He was a prince charming in the beginning,” she said, and the couple tied the knot in October. After years of homelessness, De Luna said: “All I ever wanted was a family and someone to take care of us. I didn’t really know him. I think it was stupid and desperate.
Within three weeks of the wedding, he was completely broken up on November 16, 2020.
“It was my birthday when it all hit the fan,” she said. “The violence has reached its peak. He lost it during a psychotic trip and everything fell apart.
The police intervened as they had done on several occasions. The next day, De Luna got help from the Domestic Violence Action Center and filed a temporary restraining order against her husband. He hid in the streets and was eventually arrested on five counts of abuse, she said.
He was a “really, really mean” drug addict and always stole his money, because De Luna was the only one with a job. He harassed her and threatened to kill her or her boss at the health center where she worked, accusing them of having an affair.
“I was so scared and too ashamed to say anything. I didn’t want to lose my job because I just started working there.
The only thing De Luna thought he could do was leave in the middle of her shifts or not come to work at all, which led to reprimands for her frequent absences, she said. As the sole breadwinner in the family, she couldn’t earn enough to pay the bills.
De Luna said she hadn’t even told her mother about the abuse, she was so ashamed.
“I basically had to aspire and keep going,” she explained. Now that the violence is over, “I’m in therapy; I need to talk about it because I held it back for so long.
De Luna has long known how to persevere in the face of adversity. She had an argument with her mother years ago and left home. She and her daughter, Nevaeh De Luna, now 7, have lived out of her car on and off for three years. They sometimes found accommodation, but moved several times during the first six years of her daughter’s life and ended up living in a shelter in Waimanalo for a year.
Now that things are back to normal, Nevaeh is no longer afraid and seems to have come to herself, but there are things that remind her of the trauma of being abused and seeing her mother get hit and threatened.
“He was hitting me and throwing me all over the place, throwing things at me, cursing at me, stealing my money,” De Luna said. He kept her from sleeping with her daughter, even though “Nevaeh always said she was scared, that she didn’t want to sleep on her own.”
“A lot of women live worse, don’t they? I am one of the lucky ones; he didn’t kill me. He didn’t beat me to this point, ”she said.
And she didn’t contract any illnesses from her husband, a possibility since he was an intravenous drug user, she said. “I count my blessings every day. I could have been sick too.
Being out of harm’s way is the best birthday and Christmas present she can have, said De Luna.
The annual Good Neighbor Fund, a charitable partnership between Helping Hands Hawaii, Honolulu Star-Advertiser and First Hawaiian Bank, helps individuals and families in difficulty during the holiday season. This year, through the Adopt-a-Family program, more than 500 families are asking for help with food, clothing, toys and household items. Donations to the Good Neighbor Fund also help Helping Hands cover the operational costs of the non-profit organization’s Community Clearinghouse program, which helps people with basic needs throughout the year.
Individuals can deposit cash or checks into the Good Neighbor Fund at any First Hawaiian Bank branch statewide until December 31st. To help Paddy De Luna and her daughter specifically, write the code “DVAC-022” on donation checks.