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Violence against women in abusive relationships escalated during pandemic, experts say

Updated: Jan. 4, 2021 at 6:24 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Carla, the mother of a two-year-old, said she’s been trapped with an abusive spouse for years ― but during the pandemic, the verbal and emotional attacks escalated.

“He would call me stupid, and useless and ugly, fat,” she said. “I had to meet his needs, constantly whether it was giving him Cinnabons ― I had to go drive and get ― or rubbing his feet, or massaging him, or performing sexual acts to keep him happy.”

Carla is one of tens of thousands of women who have been helped by the Domestic Violence Action Center since it’s inception 30 years ago. Today, the center celebrated that milestone with a downtown rally with its supporters.

“Domestic violence has not disappeared, it has shown no sign of abating. So we’re not going away,” said the center’s chief executive, Nanci Kreidman.

While police reports of domestic abuse cases were down slightly last year, Kreidman says violence against women in already abusive situations has increased during COVID-19 lockdowns.

She said that job losses and other economic strains caused by the pandemic also made it more difficult for women in abusive households to escape.

But the center did help Carla file for divorce in September, and helped get her and her daughter to leave her husband. Carla says she’s been able to move on with her life.

“I just got on the Dean’s List from the University of Hawaii West Oahu, and I’m really happy because those are things my abuser told me I’d never be able to do,” said Carla.

Added Kreidman: “People often ask me how can you do this for so long? It’s so dark, it’s so depressing. But really, the opposite is true: It’s very gratifying that you can make such an impact on somebody,” she said.

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