Friday | November 24, 2017
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Legislatively Speaking

Updated: 
October 23, 2017 - 12:35am

October is Domestic Abuse Awareness Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness of domestic violence. I believe it matters to all of us to understand the impacts to individuals, families and communities. The psychological harm of abuse is costly and can be deadly to innocent victims.

Why should we try to stop domestic violence?

Abuse has a devastating impact on victims and can result in the loss of independence, security, life savings, health, dignity and can be deadly. Research indicates the effects of domestic violence can cause psychological harm including depression, stress, helplessness, alienation, guilt, shame, fear and anxiety. This can impact an individual’s ability to learn, keep a job and have healthy relationship skills. Also, perpetrators of domestic violence may escalate to public killings and illegal lifestyles which have devastating impacts on our entire community.

What is the Legislature doing to address this issue?

The Hawaii State Legislature Women’s Legislative Caucus is visiting Hawaii Island. State senators and representatives are meeting with groups who work with survivors of physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse, including the Hawaii County police department, Hawaii County prosecutor and the judiciary. Also, they will be discussing programs and services affecting Hawaii County with local organizations, such as State Child and Family Services, Hawaii County Family Violence Interagency Committee, Island of Hawaii YWCA, Lokahi Treatment Centers and the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The Women’s Caucus has continued to push for funding and legislation to address the prevention of violence, resources available to victims of violence and regulations to help address the safety of victims. The purpose of the two days of meetings is to listen, discuss issues and take away recommendations.

I am an active member of the Women’s Caucus and can report that every year domestic violence is an issue of concern and ideas are considered. We meet with Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and hear about the current state of affairs, for example the amount of time spent by the police on calls regarding domestic violence, how many arrests, the need for more resources for shelters and funding for victim restitution by the judiciary.

What can you do?

If you or someone you know is being abused, call:

Information and Referral Line: 323-2664

24-Hour Crisis Line: (808) 322-SAFE (322-7233)

Hawaii Police Department Non-Emergency Line: 935-3311

If you want to play a proactive role in prevention or education, I encourage you to reach out to your community police officer, go to the web and look up Hawaii Island Domestic Violence, and check out Hawaii State Legislature’s website at www.capitol.hawaii.gov where you can look up the Women’s Caucus bills, as well as laws on domestic violence, and sign up for hearing notices this coming 2018 Legislative Session. If you need any assistance, call my office at 586-8510 or write repevans@capitol.hawaii.gov.

Mahalo for speaking up against domestic violence, participating in community events during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, attending domestic violence support groups and caring about the domestic health of our community.

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