COVID-19’s Impact on Survivors & Programs
The coronavirus pandemic has created additional risks for survivors and forced domestic violence programs across the nation to become more creative in their advocacy and shelter services. In Hawai’i, one local domestic violence hotline reported a 46% increase in contacts in the first six months of the pandemic. Statistics from the National Domestic Violence Hotline also show that there was a 50% increase in calls from Hawai’i survivors in the first month of the pandemic compared to the month prior and that 19% of calls discussed COVID-19 as a tactic or form of abuse.
Many survivors have been forced to remain at home with their abusers in lockdown, causing more tension and danger for survivors, children, pets, and other dependents. With mandatory lockdowns and stay-at-home orders caused by the public health crisis, survivors have a more difficult time accessing social services and medical care providers that are generally easier to reach pre-pandemic. To accommodate the need to discretely call for help, some hotlines have created text and online chat lines while other programs have changed in-person legal or advocacy assistance to over the phone.
HSCADV’s Response to COVID-19
Since mid-March 2020, the HSCADV has been providing guidance and resources to its member programs and the survivors of Hawai’i such as:
- Created PSAs in 11 languages and facilitated a radio campaign throughout the late spring and early summer to provide domestic violence service contact information to non-English speakers;
- Collaborated with the State of Hawai’i Department of Health to develop guidance for shelters in response to COVID-19;
- Advocated for domestic violence funding in the CARES Act and HEROES Act to our Hawai’i Congressional delegation;
- Provided Chromebooks and cell phones to domestic violence shelters to support remote advocacy, telehealth, and education for survivors and their children;
- Worked with member programs, victim advocates, and victim witness programs to advocate against the early release of misdemeanant and felony inmates without proper supervision and notification to victims and prepared testimony for the Informational Briefing by the House Committee on Public Safety;
- Hosted a training with the Legal Aid Society of Hawai`i on custody and immigration during COVID-19;
- Provided over 2,500 masks and 200+ bottles of hand sanitizer for domestic
violence advocates and survivors.