Child & Family Service (CFS) and Maui’s Women Helping Women today are raising awareness of domestic violence by sharing ways to spot domestic abuse, how to help, and resources for both survivors and abusers. Through this education, these community-based organizations together are strengthening the safety net provided by friends and family of domestic abuse survivors, helping people to escape unsafe situations, and encouraging abusers to find the counseling and resources available to stop the violence.
“Our island communities are facing a rise of domestic violence cases, and it’s more crucial than ever that we come together to provide support and resources,” says Amanda Pump, MS, CSAC, Executive Vice President and Chief Program Officer at Child & Family Service. “As we strive to serve Hawai‘i’s local families, the need to address domestic violence is not just a statistic, it’s a call to action.”
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, on average, nearly 24 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men experience domestic violence annually. If these cases only happened once, an incidence of violence would happen every three seconds.
“With the recent wildfires, we are already seeing an uptick in domestic violence,” said Sanoe Ka‘aihue, Executive Director for Women Helping Women. “We expect this abuse to increase, as families now have new stressors due to the trauma brought on by the fires. We want those impacted to know there are resources available right away to help them escape an unsafe situation. In addition, we want to raise awareness of signs to look for, and ways the public can help survivors of domestic violence.”
Meanwhile on Oahu, CFS has observed a significant rise in the number of cases related to domestic violence since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In the period between FY 22 and FY 23, the shelter occupancy at CFS increased by 67%, and the number of calls received by its hotline increased by 47%. This is an alarming reflection of the steady increase in domestic violence. Despite the increasing demand for shelter and services, the funding to operate the shelters has remained the same for years. This creates challenges for CFS and other local nonprofits as they strives to help more people every year.
Robert Boyack, MSW, Director of O’ahu Programs at Child & Family Service, who holds a master’s degree in social work, offers tips for family members and friends to help spot some indicators of abuse. For example, if someone has an unexplained injury, and they make an excuse for the injury but it seems suspect, or not logical, it may be abuse. Other red flags includes:
- Changes in life patterns – a person is becoming more reclusive, or routinely starts breaking plans to see you; skipping work; not attending family functions
- Unseasonable clothing – wearing long sleeves in Hawaii to cover their arms, especially if this is not how the person normally dresses
“If you are concerned, and see any of these signs, or if your gut is telling you something is wrong, you should ask a question,” Boyack said. “This conversation should be done in a safe and private area. And you should bring up specifics of what you are seeing in terms of the red flags. Note what your concerns are and then just listen. Let the person know they are being heard.
Photos from CFS staff and community bringing awareness across the state during the month of October.
RESOURCES FOR THE COMMUNITY
Resources to escape an unsafe relationship
Boyack notes that friends of domestic violence survivors must support the survivor’s choices, even if the survivor stays with the abuser. Historically, it may take time for someone to gather the courage to leave an abusive relationship. Friends can help by providing a listening ear, and educate the survivor about available resources. For example, CFS and Women Helping Women, alongside other community-based organizations offers multiple domestic violence shelters statewide that provide a safe haven for those trying to leave an abusive situation.
Visit Childandfamilyservice.org for a list of hotlines and programs for domestic abuse survivors. The shelters are open 24 hours a day for those seeking a safe space. Hawaii community-based organizations together offer the following domestic violence hotlines, as well:
808 841 0822 – O‘ahu, operated by CFS
808 322 7233 – West Hawai‘i Island, operated by CFS
808 959 8864 – East Hawai‘i Island, operated by CFS
808 245 6362 – Kaua‘i, operated by the YWCA Crisis Hotline
808 579 9581 – Maui, operated by Women Helping Women
808 567 6888 – Moloka‘i, operated by Moloka‘i Community Service Council
Domestic Violence Action Center (DVAC) on Oahu
808 531 3771 – Oahu helpline
800 690 6200 – Toll-Free helpline
605 956 5680 – Texting line
National Domestic Violence Hotline
1.800.799.SAFE (7233) – National helpline
Text “START” to 88788
“When a survivor is truly ready to leave, you want to be there for them,” Boyack added. “That could mean picking them up from the grocery store, their child’s school, or a location that they visit often to take them to a safe location where they can make a call.”
The goal is to not revictimize survivors by making comments such as “Why don’t you just leave them?” Boyack stresses the importance of being supportive and letting survivors know that when they are ready to leave, you are there to help. It’s this kind of support that offers hope and increases their chances of escaping their abuser.
Programs for abusers
Meanwhile, if you know someone who is exhibiting power over their partner, and things may escalate into an aggressive situation, Boyack also works with the batterer’s intervention program, Developing Options to Violence. These free group sessions are offered twice a day; six days a week. Abusers or those seeking support in order to stop the violence, can call 808-532-5100 to learn more.
To help support those dealing with domestic violence, please consider making a gift through CFS by visiting https://www.childandfamilyservice.org/giving/onlinegiving/.
Together, we can make a difference and bring hope to those affected by domestic abuse.
DV AWARENESS IN THE NEWS
Defining the Issue and Helping Others During Domestic Violence Awareness Month – 10.21.23, Hawaii Public Radio
Maui service providers sound the alarm as calls to domestic violence hotline spike – 10.20.23, Hawaii News Now
Big Isle domestic violence rose in last 2 years – 10.18.23, Hawaii Tribune Herald