lodeplus.com has launched an America Inspired contest with prizes for community heroes who are making a difference. lodeplus.com readers will actually be the judges who will be picking the winner! My first nominee? Juliet Lighter.
Even though it’s been some nine years since she wore the crown of Miss Hawaii USA, lovers of beauty in Hawaii all know who Juliet Lighter is. No one would ever think to call Juliet fat, ugly or stupid, yet one young “man” in Juliet’s life did just that and more…
“High School Sweetheart” is a term that’s supposed to evoke tender rose-colored memories, but for Juliet, those memories come in the colors black, blue and blood red. What was supposed to be the best and happiest time of Juliet’s young life was actually the most painful, both mentally and physically.
Categorized as domestic violence, what happened to Juliet has been more specifically defined as Teen Dating Violence – the primary differences being the ages of the victim and abuser as well as the lack of marital bond.
In a 2005 interview with the Star Bulletin, Juliet spoke about how she was pushed, slapped, threatened, hurt and betrayed by the man she had given her heart to over the course of four years.
On the night she finally resolved to end the relationship she was truly lucky to get out of it with her life: enraged by her assertion for independence he repetitively slammed her head into the door of her pick-up truck that by the beating’s end, landed Juliet in the hospital with a concussion.
Surviving such an intense and brutal attack might understandably leave a person “down and out” but that is something Juliet will never be. Instead she took the time she needed to recover and heal then set her sights high – high enough to earn the crown of Miss Hawaii USA just a few short years later but that’s not where this story ends – it’s only the begining.
Juliet made domestic violence the platform towards her title, but she didn’t just go up on stage and say “Domestic violence is wrong and it needs to stop” – she courageously put herself and her story out there publicly (which for any DV survivor is nothing short of terrifying and excruciating until you get used to the awkward and uncomfortable silences, the judgmental stares and whispers).
Winning the crown only reinforced Juliet’s commitment towards ending domestic violence. By 2007, her non-profit organization “Women Speaking Out” was taking solid form whose Mission Statement is:
To educate young women between the ages of 11-25 in Hawaii about dating violence including sexual assault by providing an interactive curriculum focused on building self-esteem, increasing the awareness of gender-based violence, teaching intervention techniques, and developing leadership skills that will foster youth mentoring through volunteerism.
Juliet went on to earn a Masters in Communications degree from Hawaii Pacific University in 2008 and serves as an inspiration to young women everywhere.
I can’t help but smile whenever I think of Juliet because she adds her own unique style and flair to everything she does. Domestic violence has to be one of the most un-glamorous issues out there, but Juliet’s developed a way of incorporating fashion, beauty and style into her crusade against abuse and I’m in awe of how she’s been able to do that cause really, how does anyone make domestic violence recovery look good? The answer to that question would be Juliet Lighter.
Juliet is truly living proof of the saying “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” (and she’s done it in an evening gown with heels and a tiara!) You go girl!