“Abuse arrests drop as calls for help soar ” & Service Gaps Document
In case you didn’t see this article in the Star Advertiser: Abuse arrests drop as calls for help soar – Hawaii News – Staradvertiser.com. Excerpts:
Declines of more than a third have been reported statewide for arrests and misdemeanor convictions under Hawaii’s main abuse statute, according to statistics from 2000 through 2009 compiled and recently released by the state Attorney General’s Office.
Yet calls to domestic violence shelters and requests for court protective orders have jumped dramatically over the same 10-year period, the data show. Use of shelter beds also is up.
Underlying both trends is a shortage of funding, contributing to pressures on the system to hold abusers accountable and handicapping agencies already struggling to help thousands of victims who suffer annually, often in silence. Many agencies have been forced to cut staff or services or both.
Women Helping Women on Maui, for instance, has laid off case managers, a deputy director and other staff and eliminated a children’s program that each year served roughly 200 kids exposed to domestic violence. At the same time, the nonprofit organization’s shelter — the only one on Maui — last year recorded its highest bed use ever.
The demand for services has increased even as domestic abuse calls to police fell 37 percent, arrests dropped 39 percent and misdemeanor convictions under the abuse statute declined 38 percent over the past decade, according to the state data.
Victims and advocates told the Star-Advertiser that many abused women are reluctant to involve the police and the courts, partly for cultural reasons and partly because those who did so often found that their situations didn’t improve and frequently became worse. Many said the abusers are not held sufficiently accountable.
Those who have turned to authorities consistently told the center they often were made to feel stupid, were accused of making things up or felt judged for not leaving the abuser. The women mentioned having to endure a lengthy court process — often having to take off time from work — for an outcome that usually made the abusive situation no better and frequently made it worse, Spencer said.
Gaps in legal services, a lack of alternatives to a western justice system, police apathy, court system barriers, the need for harsher consequences for perpetrators and police training and understaffing were the most commonly mentioned issues, according to Baker.
I found the comments on this article particularly.. hard to read. I encourage those of us who work within the field and know what it’s like for survivors to share knowledge (of course never with identifying information from specific cases!) about dynamics of domestic violence and the realities survivors face. Not a single comment focused on the need to end abusive behaviors in men.
Here is a document which outlines these gaps in services: