With a new president coming into office and the national conversation his election sparked off on the de-valuation of women by society, I thought it was relevant to look into how Maui treats some of its most vulnerable members of society, women and children affected by Domestic Violence (DV).
According to the Maui Police Department (MPD), there were 4,376 Domestic Violence (DV) cases reported in 2015 and 667 arrests. That means that approximately only 15 % of offenders were arrested after police involvement. Comparably it was 20.8% in 2014, and 15.9% in 2013.
When looking at the statistics there does not appear to be a big effort to put DV offenders behind bars and protect victims.
I compared the case to arrest rates in a few other places to see if I was correct. In Chicago in 2014, 79% of DV cases led to an arrest (Chicago Police Department, Quarterly Statistical Report, YTD September 2014). While in the same year it was reported, by the Los Angeles Times, that 40% of Los Angeles DV cases resulted in arrests. However, one point to note is that Maui County police is the only county that documents verbal arguments, which may inflate our numbers and makes the arrest rate so low. I reached out to MPD, but they did not get back a comment on time.
According to Stacey Moniz, the Executive Director of Women Helping Women (WHW), the MPD protocol for handling domestic violence cases “on paper” is good because of the mandatory arrest law that states that if a police officer witnesses violence or the victim has pain or injuries when they respond to a call, the police must make an arrest. Another positive is that they must put the victims in touch with WHW for support, as needed, including shelter or a Temporary Restraining Order. The amount of women staying in the shelter varies each year, but is usually somewhere around 100 women and 150 children at a time. WHW has also just expanded recently opening a shelter on Lanai.
Moniz said she would like to see more domestic violence training for Maui police as, “not all cops are created equal,” which Moniz feels contributes to the inconsistent responses to DV calls. WHW and the prosecutor’s office used to conduct a week training for police on domestic violence, but it has been cut down to a one-hour training with the police conducting the rest of the week themselves. Moniz said she does not think that this gives them enough of an understanding of the big picture. “Crimes of domestic violence are the only crimes where we (as a society) expect the victim to save themselves.”
Many things create stresses in families that lead to violent situations. According to Moniz, the busiest day for DV police calls on Maui is any given Sunday. She continues to say that approximately 75% of the women who stay in the shelter at first will go back to their abusive partner. “It sometimes takes women several trips to the shelter to realize that they need to permanently separate themselves from the their abuser. Many of the women who call say they don’t want their relationship to end. They just want the violence to stop.”
From her line of work Moniz says that she notices our society is very harsh and critical of women who have been victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. She feels that the root cause of many DV issues is that our current society does not value women.“We (society) say that we value women, but if you see the amount of porn and video games that contains violence against women and issues with human trafficking, we don’t.” She believes, “The roots of violence against women is sexism and the de-valuation of women in our society.”
Moniz says that finding a solution to domestic violence issues lies in changing the conversation from blaming the victim to about holding the abuser accountable to his actions and recognizing their role in the problem.
If you are or someone you know is in an abusive situation, please call the WHW 24-hour a day hotline at 579-9581. Monez encourages women to call to ask questions, talk story and seek help.
Image Credit: Maui Police Department