Thank you for highlighting domestic violence in The Mauimama! I know that a lot of women on Maui are concerned about a serial killer after two women have gone missing early on this year. I want to assure our community that this is very unlikely a serial killer. Understand that it is almost always someone we know who will hurt us or kill us. It is very rare to be attacked by a stranger. Both women’s cases have strong signs of domestic violence. The last person to see each of the women was an estranged boyfriend: whether or not there was a documented history of abuse for either of these cases, the statistics will say domestic violence. The number one cause of death for pregnant women is domestic homicide. It is by FAR the largest killer of pregnant women. We need to educate ourselves about things like domestic violence, date rape, stalking and other forms of violence against women. That’s where Women Helping Women can help. With statistics showing that one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, many readers might find themselves in an abusive relationship.
First of all, you are certainly not alone, that first statistic says a lot, and here on Maui the police department handles over 5,000 calls each year relating to domestic violence. Pregnancy is a huge risk factor for domestic violence. Pregnancy can escalate domestic violence or it can be the time when violence starts in a relationship. Women Helping Women’s 24 hour hotline (579-9581) receives over 2,000 CRISIS calls each year and nearly 10,000 information calls. We are here to listen, to share ideas and to offer solutions when you’re ready.
In terms of legal remedies for domestic violence, the first and fastest way to get help is by calling 911. Abuse of a Family or Household Member is the name of the misdemeanor charge here in Hawaii. If the police are called and the victim has visible injury or complains of pain inflicted by an intimate partner, the police will arrest the abuser and issue a 24 hour warning citation that states the abuser may not return to the house for a period of time (sometimes 48 hours). The intent is to give the abused person, typically the woman, a chance to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). If convicted of Abuse, the offender faces a two day minimum jail term, 1 year probation and mandatory Batterer’s Intervention Program classes.
A Temporary Restraining Order is a court order that orders the abuser to stay away from and have no contact with the person getting the Temporary Restraining Order (Petitioner). Women Helping Women will support Petitioners through the entire Temporary Restraining Order process, going to court, etc. The Temporary Restraining Order can be turned into a permanent Order for Protection at the hearing and can last for a year or more. Temporary visitation and custody orders can be made as a part of the process but this is not a permanent solution.
It is important to establish paternity, custody, and visitation orders if you have a child in common with someone who is abusing you. An attorney is highly advised but can cost several thousand dollars to hire. Divorce, custody and child support cases are highly contentious and complex. Women Helping Women does not provide legal services but sometimes we can help with referrals and answer some questions about the process, but for legal advice, we strongly suggest calling family law attorneys in the phone book. If you have the resources, it is a very wise investment to hire a good family lawyer.
If you are concerned for your safety, if you wonder if you might be in an abusive relationship or if you just want to talk about options, please call our 24 hour hotline at 579-9581. All calls are anonymous and there are never any charges for our services. Women Helping Women can help victims of domestic violence through our hotline, emergency shelter, children’s program, TRO Program, with transitional housing and rental assistance or with job training through our ReVive Boutique. All of our services can be accessed through our hotline. We invite you to call us today. You are not alone and we are here to help.
Image Credit: Cadencia Photography