Calls to a domestic violence helpline have shot up during Hawaii’s pandemic, and advocates fear the Native Hawaiian community may be hard-hit.

Between late March and early October, the Hawaii nonprofit Domestic Violence Action Center experienced a 46% increase in calls to its helpline, according to a new report released by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Liliʻuokalani Trust and Kamehameha Schools Tuesday.

The increase mirrors a troubling national trend. The state and city’s stay-at-home orders — intended to stem the spread of  COVID-19 — also mean families have been stuck at home more often, and data from other states indicate pandemic lockdowns have correlated with a surge of domestic abuse.

This graph shows how Native Hawaiians report higher than average rates of domestic violence in intimate relationships. 

The Domestic Violence Action Center provided legal information to 22% more domestic violence survivors than it did during the same months in 2019.

Many of those survivors were Native Hawaiian. The nonprofit had more than 840 contacts with Native Hawaiian clients during the pandemic, including dozens of referrals to other service providers, safety plans and 12 court appearances.

Data prior to the pandemic shows Native Hawaiians experience higher than average rates of physical and sexual abuse by their intimate partners, the report said.

However, white and non-Hawaiian Pacific Islanders reported even higher rates of intimate partner violence.

Native Hawaiians also are less likely to be killed as a result of domestic violence than Filipinos and other ethnic groups in Hawaii.

Click here to read the issue brief.

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