Victim Safety in Hawaii
In 1993 The League of Women Voters of Honolulu held its first general membership meeting on family violence. In 1994 the National League convention adopted a position on Violence Prevention by concurrence based on a 1990 study by The League of Women Voters of Minneapolis. In implementing the National position as it relates to domestic violence, League held general membership meetings with public forums, in 1995 ("Discussion on Violence"), 1996 ("Presentation of Court Monitoring Project"), and 1997, ("A Coordinated Community Response").
In January 1995, League began to serve on the Women's Legislative Coalition and supported the flagship bill, SB2151, Relating to the Prevention of Physical and Sexual Violence, which recommended a public-private partnership be established to begin a school-based violence prevention project.
In September of 1996, League and the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women issued a report on its study of the handling of misdemeanor spouse abuse cases in family court. The study revealed that many perpetrators of family violence received little or no jail time or other punishment for their crime. The study spurred public discussion about the prosecution and adjudication of domestic violence cases.
This report attempts to describe domestic violence services in the State of Hawaii over the last decade and the gaps in the system that jeopardize the lives of women and children. Women who come into the system expect the system to protect them, and it should. The report considers the safety of the victims and the services available to women in violent domestic situations.
The information in this report came from numerous discussions with victim advocates, battered women and formerly battered women. Because the service system in our community does not encourage broad participation and open discussion, battered women and formerly battered women are seldom invited to serve on the various domestic violence committees that affect public policy. These critical voices, whose experiences are necessary to evaluate and develop appropriate services for them, are left out of the process.
Suzanne E. Meisenzahl, Chair
Violence Prevention Committee