State help sought for churches that shelter domestic violence victims

Esther De Francia
Esther De Francia
Philip Mark
Philip Mark
Don Asman
Don Asman

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Royal Kaukani's loved ones took their fight against domestic violence to the capitol on Monday, hoping to prevent other women from losing their lives to abuse.

That has sparked a fresh movement to possibly turn churches into safe havens for victims.

It's a vicious cycle that, loved ones say, cost their baby sister's life.

"We are children of domestic abuse. Apparently, it just, she just thought it was normal. And it was something that could be fixed because my parents are still married," said Kaukani's oldest sister, Esther De Francia.

Kaukani of Ewa was brutally shot to death two weeks ago, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend. It's a fate one domestic violence survivor who showed up at the Capitol fears. KHNL has concealed her identity to protect her from her ex-husband.

"He has called, he's threatened to kill my child, me, my current husband. It came down to me changing my name, and social security number," she said.

Lawmakers are now turning to faith-based organizations for help, to possibly have churches serve as sanctuaries for victims. At United Church of Christ in Nuuanu, classrooms are already used to house the homeless, for a week at a time. Extending it to victims of domestic violence is an idea the pastors there support.

"It's likely that the non-profit folks will be seen as folks with less bureaucratic rules and regulations so the access to immediate services and relevant services are right there," said Senior Pastor Philip Mark.

"We know the people we can call, whether it might be Catholic social services, or child welfare, adult protective services," said Associate Pastor Don Asman.

Services that domestic violence victims say need to be more accessible to prevent any more losses of life.

Victims who spoke out at the Human Services Committee briefing on Tuesday say the system has flaws and in some cases allegedly failed to protect them.

That sparked the idea of using churches as safe havens.

Non-profit Catholic Charities says it supports it, as long as faith communities get proper training on how to respond to domestic cases.