Experts see increase in domestic violence cases in Hawaii, provide tips for victims, loved ones

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Domestic violence is an often hidden problem that can have deadly consequences and experts say it is on the rise in Hawaii.

The Domestic Violence Action Center (DVAC) saw a spike in calls in 2020 during the pandemic and they are already seeing similar patterns in 2021. Although things are returning to normal, domestic violence numbers are expected to grow.

According to DVAC, from February of 2020 to 2021, hotline calls jumped by 188%. In April, numbers rose by 38%.

“We’re seeing texts and chats 24 hours a day and telephone calls during the workday and workweek,” Domestic Violence Action Center executive director.

Former Miss Hawaii USA, Juliet Lighter-Kamm, knows first hand what these victims are dealing with.

“I was in multiple abusive relationships. And like I said, I’ve experienced every type of abuse that you can imagine,” said Juliet Lighter-Kamm, founder of Women Speaking Out.

She does not just mean that in a physical sense. Lighter-Kamm experienced verbal and emotional abuse too.

According to the Hawaii Department of Health, nearly one in five middle school students experience physical dating violence. To combat those numbers, the Honolulu Police Department added two victim-witness counselors to their domestic violence task force in 2020.

As a survivor, Lighter-Kamm says victim resources can be life-changing, but before getting help comes recognition.

“If you’re dating someone, male or female, and they’re telling you what you should wear, what you shouldn’t wear, that’s a sign of control. If your partner doesn’t even allow you to have an opinion and doesn’t even allow you to share or really to talk to other people. That’s another big red flag,” said Lighter-Kamm.

“If they are exhibiting any red flags, exhibiting any signs, you should ask them questions. It’s a delicate conversation to have, but it’s a very important conversation to have,” Friedman said.

For more information on DVAC’s resources, click here.

For more information on Women Speaking Out Hawaii, click here.

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