Look around you. Maybe you’re in an office, settling in for work. Maybe you’re at your child’s school function. Maybe you’re taking care of errands and waiting in line. Maybe you are at church. Or in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.

Take a look at the women around you. Then imagine a third of them abused. Maybe the abuse is physical and you can see the bruises. Maybe the abuse is emotional and mental, and the scars are deep, so deep you can’t see them.

Maybe you know about this first hand.

No matter where you are, 33 percent of the women around you have been victims of domestic violence in their lifetime. Think about that throughout the day.

One-third of the women in your workplace, in a coffee shop or in a supermarket have been or will be the targets of domestic violence — it’s a staggering number. (The statistic comes from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.) Domestic violence not only affects the victims, but their children and elderly household members too.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. But it’s important to remember the number of people domestic violence touches and that it’s a pressing issue the other 11 months of the year as well. Both men and women can be abused, but the vast majority of reported incidents and more serious crimes are against women.

The statistic of one in three women being the victim of domestic violence is a national average. The numbers for the state of Hawaii are much more alarming — according to the NCADV, women of Asian and Pacific Island ancestry report domestic violence numbers of 40 percent to 61 percent. But despite those numbers, 41 percent of domestic violence programs in the state reported being understaffed, underfunded and sometimes understaffed and underfunded, according to the NCADV.

Domestic violence not only affects the victims, but their children and elderly household members too.

Additionally, about 19.1 percent of the University of Hawaii’s students reported experiencing domestic violence and intimate partner violence, according to the UH system’s 2017 study, “Student Climate Survey on Sexual Harassment & Gender-based Violence.”

We must address these crimes, take them seriously and understand these are complex and costly issues. The demand for appropriate and effective community response — because the victims of domestic violence come from all walks of life, regardless of gender — means law enforcement, courts, health care and legal practitioners, mental health and social service systems, business, and academia must be apprised and trained to address the problem.

Domestic violence adversely affects the physical and mental health of victims and household members in many ways: sleep and eating disorders are not uncommon, productivity is diminished, houselessness can occur and parenting is impacted.

The consequences of partner violence on island families and our community makes it an extremely important issue. We call on elected and appointed leaders to examine ways to incorporate best practices in public policy initiatives. The leadership by Hawaii’s political leaders at local and federal levels will improve the community’s well being: Safe families are at the core of a healthy community.

If you suspect a friend, co-worker, family member or friend is in a relationship where they’re being harmed, suspend judgment, listen deeply, offer support and give them information about community resources that may help them.

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