Advocates, state leaders brace for increase in domestic violence

Updated: Apr. 7, 2020 at 10:11 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s been nearly two weeks since Gov. David Ige issued a mandatory “stay-at-home” order for all Hawaii residents in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

But for some, home is not the safest place.

“In these times, unfortunately, domestic violence ticks up,” said Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

"We are getting a lot of information from the community about the rise in domestic violence and abuse issues,” Department of Human Services Director Pankaj Bhanot said.

The number of women calling support services has doubled in some places around the country.

"We know lockdowns and quarantines are essential to suppressing COVID-19. But they can trap women with abusive partners. Over the past weeks as economic and social pressures and fear have grown, we have seen a horrifying global surge in domestic violence,” said Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-general recently.

Guterres urged government officials to continue to prosecute abusers, set up emergency warning systems in pharmacies and grocery stores and create safe ways for women to seek support, without alerting their abusers.

Hawaii domestic violence victims’ advocates have been working nonstop to help survivors stay safe since the state’s stay-at-home order went into effect on March 25.

“The first week of the stay-at-home order, we had every person on our staff contact the people they’ve been helping,” said Nanci Kreidman, Domestic Violence Action Center chief executive officer.

“They called and contacted 600 survivors the first three days of the stay-at-home order.”

Since the new mandate, DVAC has added a text and chat feature to their website to help victims who are stuck at home with their abusers.

Kreidman said everyone can help during these unprecedented times.

“If they know someone who they have had concerns about in the past, if they’ve noticed any red flags or any warning signs, now is a very important time to reach out to them,” Kreidman said.

If you’re seeking help, here’s where to look:

  • Individuals needing support can contact the Hawaii Department of Health hotline via text at (605) 956-5680 or phone call at (808) 531-3371. Hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • For assistance outside those hours, individuals can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which is available 24/7, at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
  • In an emergency, call 911.
  • You can click here for more information on resources. More information is also available by clicking here.
  • If you are afraid in your home, if you are afraid for you or your loved ones safety, help is available.

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