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Advocacy groups see rise in domestic violence survivors seeking help as COVID restrictions loosen

Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 10:31 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As Hawaii comes out of the pandemic, advocacy groups foresee a steady stream of domestic violence cases.

The groups say that with restrictions being lifted, survivors are no longer isolated at home with their abusers and are more likely to seek help.

“They’re going to see that they have options,” said Nanci Kreidman, CEO of the Domestic Violence Action Center. “And they’re going to say to themselves and to their family, I can’t live like this anymore. I can’t live in this kind of fear.”

According to the Honolulu Police Department, between Jan. 1 and Sept. 23 of 2020 there were 5,258 domestic violence reports.

During the same time this year, there were 6,136 reports — which is an increase of 16%.

It’s no surprise to Kreidman or Child and Family Service.

“We are very, very busy,” said Kreidman. “Calls to our helpline quadrupled.”

“When our state was on lockdown, our calls dropped by 24%,” said program administrator of Child and Family Service, Robert Boyack. “Now that the state has reopened, we’ve seen over 300% increase in our calls for the crisis hotline.”

Boyack said many of the cases are severe.

He said 38% of the calls are from the hospital.

“Survivors come in that’s being discharged from the hospital with broken arms, you know, black and blue eyes,” said Boyack.

The program administrator said survivors won’t always seek help, so some red flags to look for include people becoming more reclusive and breaking plans like skipping work or not attending family functions.

In addition, wearing clothes not suitable for the weather like long sleeves.

“And if you suspect something is happening, ask,” said Boyack. “Make sure to give them the a safe place to have the communication.”

Child and Family Service has a list of hotlines and programs for domestic abuse survivors.

The non-profit also offers programs for abusers looking for help. For more information, call their main line at 808-681-3500.

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