More shelter space needed as domestic violence survivors flee

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Domestic violence continues to be an issue in the community. According to Honolulu police, just this week, a man was arrested for pepper spraying and punching his wife in the face, a brother was arrested for allegedly hitting his elderly sister with a folding chair and several other arrests were made for the abuse of a family member in front of a child.

“It’s something that occurs more frequently than anyone can imagine,” said Nanci Kreidman, Domestic Violence Action Center CEO.

Check out more news from around Hawaii

According to the Domestic Violence Counts report, 950 victims were helped on a single day last September. That demand is expected to rise.

“The demand is real and unyielding and we anticipate that to continue to increase as children go back to school and as people go back to work,” said Kreidman.

As survivors escape dangerous households, more shelter space is needed. For Child and Family Service, their transitional housing is currently full.

“Right now, at capacity,” said Robert Boyack, Child and Family Service Director of Oahu Programs. “We have about 20 adults and 25 children at the shelters.”

CFS adds any survivors may contact them and they will not turn anyone away.

The Institute for Human Services is seeing an influx of victims needing help.

“We have people coming from the mainland, running, fleeing from domestic violence and when they call to get into the domestic violence shelter, they can’t take them, because they’re from the mainland or they’re from a different island,” said Raenell Manning of the Institute for Human Services.

In this legislative session, more funding was given to the Domestic Violence Action Center and Child and Family Services. There was also $114,000 provided to create a victim witness support team among other efforts. That includes changes to Hawaii’s divorce law, making it easier for victims to escape abusers. Previously, individuals had to be a resident of Hawaii for six months or three months on Oahu before filing for divorce.

“It actually helped a victim just the other day where she had to flee to Oahu From Hawaii Island,” said Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, (D) Nanakuli, Waianae, Makaha. “Even though she had been here for only a few days, she was able to file for divorce here.”

Lawmakers are discussing ways to advocate and better protect victims ahead of the next legislative session.

“This would be a no-brainer that all of us could stand behind improving the safety for domestic violence victims and preventing these kind of tragedies in the future,” Shimabukuro said.

What’s going on around the globe. Find out in International News

Anyone seeking help can call the Domestic Violence Action Center hotline:

OAHU HELPLINE: (808) 531-3771
TOLL FREE HELPLINE: (800) 690-6200
TEXT LINE: (605) 956-5680

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misquoted the current capacity at the shelter. The quote has been corrected in the story.