As Hawaii residents move indoors during the coronavirus pandemic, domestic violence organizations want to provide a fully staffed help line service for victims to discretely reach out for the aid they might need.
Nanci Kreidman, CEO of the Domestic Violence Action Center, said service providers are exploring options that would not put a victim at risk for seeking help while in isolation with their abuser.
“Usually, survivors will wait for their abusers to go to work, or if the victims leave home they are free to make a phone call for help,” she said. “We are trying to put that in place with a tactical capacity for texting, emailing and chatting so victims can do that without attracting any attention from their abuser.”
Advocates against domestic violence said all Hawaii shelters remain open for victims and survivors. Karen Tan, president and CEO of Child & Family Service, said there are discussions underway for quarantine rooms for domestic violence victims exposed to the virus.
Tan said the company has four shelters across the island: two on Oahu and two on Hawaii island.
State Sen. Mazie Hirono and four other U.S. senators, in a letter, have urged the Trump administration to provide resources for domestic violence victims and survivors during the pandemic.
“An unintended but foreseeable consequence of these drastic (shelter in place) measures will be increased stress at home, which in turn creates a greater risk for domestic violence. According to one recent article, emergency situations have ‘historically led to increased reports of domestic abuse’ to the National Domestic Violence Hotline,” the senators wrote.
“In addition, domestic violence service providers expect an increase in the need for emergency childcare and domestic violence shelters, as well as for supplies to keep centers and program sites safe and secure,” the senators continued. “It is critical that your agencies ensure that victims and survivors of domestic violence continue to have access to these vital services.”
Gov. David Ige has issued an emergency proclamation urging residents to stay home unless there is an “essential need” to go out.
Domestic violence victims may go to the Hawaii courts to file a restraining order, according to Kreidman.
“I don’t think Hawaii was fully prepared,” Kreidman said in regard to the coronavirus pandemic and the impact of stay-at-home restrictions for domestic violence victims. “I think we’re trying to be responsive and provide effective ways to become prepared.”