Youʻre Not Alone
In January 2006, a young Filipino woman by the name of Sandra Galas was found murdered inside her home in Ele’ele, Kauai. The cause of death was strangulation. Her husband, Darren Galas, became a suspect but there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him with the murder. For 12 years the case was cold, but earlier this year new evidence was introduced thanks to new forensic technology, and her husband, who had always been a prime suspect, was finally charged with her murder. Sandra Galas, had been described by her community as a special person who was not only a mother and daughter, but she was also a talented dancer.
Her husband pleaded no-contest and was indicted on first-degree assault, a class-B felony, and has an open 10-year sentence. Is that all this incredible woman’s life was worth to the courts after 12 years of investigation...just 10 years behind bars for killing your wife? The victim’s father held a golf tournament in her honor to raise awareness of domestic violence in the Kauai community.
In July 2008, Grineline James, a mother, wife, and schoolteacher, and from Mililani, was murdered along with her son, Michael Jr. The loving mom and son were killed by her husband and the 9 year old boys’ father, Michael James Sr, a veteran. Many who knew Grineline described her as someone with big heart, always seemed happy, and was well-loved by the students and faculty at Farrington High School where she worked. People who knew her said that she was a good mom and they never saw any signs that there was trouble in the marriage. Friends and neighbors said the couple had always seemed to be happy and in love when they were out in public. The odd thing is that they were supposed to be attending a funeral the following week on the mainland for her husband’s brother. But instead, family and friends would be mourning them. They say police found the bodies after a postal worker noticed a letter in the mailbox, then more letters were found in the house that led police to the bodies upstairs. Authorities declined to say how they died, but stated that it wasn’t by gunshot. After Michael James killed his wife and son, he hung himself.
The community is shocked and confused because there were no signs that this couple had marital problems. It could possibly be that Michael James, a retired veteran, suffered from PTSD, but we will never know.
In March 2009, Royal Kaukahi was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend, Toi Nofoa, whom she had a TRO against. Royal wore a radiant smile and is dearly loved and missed by her family. While her family and friends try to deal with their loss of such a beautiful young woman, her ex-boyfriend was acquitted of first-degree murder. According to court records, Kaukahi was afraid of Nofoa and had several TROs against him.
Interestingly, prior to her death, Royal Kaukahi was scheduled to turn state’s witness against Toi Nofoa for kidnapping and terroristic threatening in another case. Instead, an unidentified someone got into her SUV in broad daylight and shot her over and over. That sounds like someone didn’t want her to talk, if you ask me. Because no one saw the killer who actually got into the car and shot her, there wasn’t enough proof to pin evidence on Nofoa. After Nofoa’s acquittal the atmosphere in the courtroom was a mix of outrage and disbelief as Nofoa walked away a free man – free to kidnap and terrorize again.
In July 2016, Celeste Gibbons lost her life to gun violence on Kauai. Her estranged husband shot her in front of their daughter before killing himself too.
There are many reasons why Hawaii has such a high incidence of violence against women, and I will be taking an intersectional approach to what causes this male form of aggression.
It's important to remember that domestic violence is a form of power and control of one partner in the relationship over the other.
From a Native-Hawaiian perspective, domestic violence "begins in the home", and therefore any form of intervention must come from a cultural competent perspective. We're told that "IPV 'starts in the home'. It is a learned in the family and community...and the home in which they were raised...for many women it was part of their...and their partner's childhood (Oneha, 2010, p.5). From this cultural perspective, we can see why "experts suggest that clinical interventions for abused women should be based on principles, which includes cultural competence and empowerment" (Oneha et al., 2010, p.2).
While we're informed that domestic abuse within a Native-Hawaiian perspective is a learned behavior from childhood and "starts in the home" from a father of other male figure, it's still about that male form of power and control over a woman and can manifest in countless ways of male dominance. Kaufman reminds us that "men's violence against women is probably the clearest, most straightforward expression of relative male and female power...because of differences in physical strength" (Kaufman, 1987, p. 589-590). Rape is a good example of the acting out of these relations of power and the outcome of fragile masculinity (Kaufman, 1987, p.590).
Despite the fact that most victims of domestic violence are female, it is not always the case. Men can also be victims of intimate partner violence as well. While 1 in 3 women have reported some sort of abuse by a former or current partner, reports show that 1 in 7 men have also reported some degree of assault in their lifetime. Even so, women are more likely to sustain physical injury during an attack. This form of violence against women does not single out any race, gender, or class. Court records prove that there is a significantly higher amount of domestic violence involving the poor compared to the upper-class population.
There is a dangerous form of criminal activity in Hawaii called Domestic Violence (DV), or else commonly known as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), that has been directly responsible for the high rate of murders and suicide among within Hawaiian island culture. The Hawaii Domestic Violence Action Center has defined domestic violence as a pattern of behavior, which includes physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse between intimate partners (including verbal abuse and/or psychological tactics such as intimidation and /or degrading someone), including dating violence (Pobutsky, 2014, p.80). Domestic violence is the most common form of violence against women (Kaur, 2008, p.2), and in Hawaii, its prevalence has reached epidemic proportions. Since most victims of domestic violence are women, and the injuries they sustain by their male perpetrators are far much more severe than male victims of DV, I will be focusing on the female population of abused victims.
For my final project assignment, I will be initiating a blog to introduce the subject of Domestic Violence in Hawaii, as a way to expose what domestic violence is and what it can look like. I thought a blog would be an interesting way of bringing DV to the public. A blog is a social media platform to share ideas and commentary with others, so the purpose of this blog is to bring attention to the dangers of Domestic Violence in Hawaii, and what that looks like.
I will be exploring domestic violence in Hawaii through an intersectional lens, looking at the Native-Hawaiian population that have an extremely high rate of gender-based violence, as well as the disproportionately high number women from the Filipino community. While Native Hawaiians only make up a sliver of Hawaii’s total population, a substantial amount of domestic violence is coming from this population, and how cultural competence is necessary when helping our Native- Hawaiian population. Another marginalized population with an even higher rate of IPV and mortality are women of Filipino ancestry, whose disproportionate incidence of murder/suicide doubles the rest.
A community based participatory research (CBPR) study was conducted with Native Hawaiian women who were all survivors of domestic violence, most lived in predominantly Hawaiian communities. The study focuses on a Hawaiian cultural perspective in dealing with this marginalized population of DV victim, and how overcoming domestic violence from a kanaka maoli perspective is much different from the DV Western attitude. Native Hawaiian survivors seek a more culturally holistic approach to healing their past hurts from DV experiences, by rediscovering their inner spirit of self, to be pono, is to be in “harmony” with oneself, your family, and community. This important Native-Hawaiian concept of pono, emphasizes the value of IPV survivors reconnecting with their natural elements, such as going down to the ocean for saltwater baths, and connecting oneself to the universe, the stars in the night’s sky. For Native-Hawaiian survivors, “pono” within herself is what is encouraged, such as being in the lo’i or surfing – Native-Hawaiian concept of it’s about believing in herself again, or for the first time, but its all about healing from the physical and emotionally pain of the past. And as that happens, she’ll begin sense that inner peace that had been missing when she was being abused. Being pono (proper) with self and overcoming shame. Women also had a need to believe they could change their circumstances (self-efficacy), work to recover from their experiences and persevere (Oneha et al., 2010, p.6).
A close look at domestic violence within the Hawaiian community, shares the common belief that intimate personal violence is a learned behavior that originates in the home. The Native-Hawaiian community is and the more if went on the more acceptable it became. The overriding theme was that IPV “starts in the home” (Oneha et al., 2010). If we begin to unpack this concept, we’ll see that domestic violence indeed begins in the home, a belief unanimous within the Hawaiian community, then we will see how this form of violence is learned behavior, passed down from one generational household to the next, to become the violent force within the family structure that it is. As participants of the study begin to see the destructive patterns of abuse, they’ll also find ways to dismantle that damaging social construct within the family would produce different reactions from various family members – a “defend the collective” attitude had emerged within their families.
Since I think blogs are a good platform to follow an issue of interest, I wanted to challenge myself to do create one, but I’ve never built one before, so I’m definitely being challenged right now by the technical difficulties of trying to put this together. I hope that by creating this blog on Domestic Violence in Hawaii, it will become a platform for women that are experiencing this king of power and control, and to talk about these issues. It is my hope that by bringing attention to this dangerous and often deadly form of gender-based violence in Hawaii, it will help someone to understand that they are not alone and that there are people in the community that are knowledgeable and compassionate about what women go through and are available to help them change their current circumstances. I also want to include resources of various agencies here in Hawaii and their websites, as a way for women to have easy access to more domestic violence information.
American Civil Liberies Union. (n.d.). Domestic Violence as a Human Rights Violation | American Civil Liberities Union. Retrieved Aug 11, 2019, from ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/blog/womens-rights/violence-against-women/domestic-violence-human-rights-violation
DVAC. (2019). https://domesticviolenceactioncenter.org/. Retrieved Aug 19, 2019, from Domestic Violence Action Center: https://domesticviolenceactioncenter.org/
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Guruge, S., Morrison, L., Jayasuriya-Illesinghe, V., & Mock, T. Intimate Partner Violence in Hawaii: Communities in Distress. Arts and Social Sciences Journal , 7 (2), 1-7.
HSCADV. (2017). HSCADV. (hscadv.org, Producer) Retrieved from Hawaii State Coalition Against Domdestic Violence: https://www.hscadv.org/
Kaufman, M. (1987). The Construction of Masculinity and the Triad of Men's violence. In Beyond Patriarchy: Essays on Pleasure, Power, and Change (pp. 584-598). Toronto: Oxford University Press.
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NO MORE. (2019). NO MORE Together We Can End Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Retrieved Aug 12, 2019, from NO MORE: https://nomore.org/
Oneha, M. F., Magnussen, L., & Schoultz, J. (2012, July 9). The Voices of Native Hawaiian Women: Perceptions, Responses and Needs Regarding Intimate Partner Violence. California Journal of Health Promotion .
Pobutsky, A., Brown, M., Nakao, L., & Reyes-Salvail, F. (2013, November). Results from the Hawaii domestic violence fatality review, 2000-2009. Journal of Injury and Violence Research , 79-90.
Sack, E. (2009). FROM THE RIGHT OF CHASTISEMENT TO THE CRIMINALIZATION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: A STUDY IN RESISTANCE TO EFFECTIVE POLICY REFORM. Thomas Jefferson Law Review .
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University of Hawaii. (n.d.). Prevention, Awareness, Understanding (PAU) Violence Program - University of Hawaii at Manoa. Retrieved from PAU Violence University of Hawaii: http://manoa.hawaii.edu/pauviolence/
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Women Helping Women. (2019). Women Helping Women - Until Every Home Is Safe. Retrieved August 4, 2019, from Women Helping Women: http://www.womenhelpingwomenmaui.com/
The purpose of this blog is to bring attention to the prevalence of domestic violence in Hawaii. While most of us know what domestic violence is, there are versions of the form of power and control by an intimate partner towards the other.
One of the favorite descriptions of what domestic violence is, can be summed up like this:
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is defined as the threat of and/or actual physical sexual, psychological, or verbal abuse and other forms or coercion by a current or former spouse or non-marital partner (Guruge, 2016, p.1).
One of the least talked about crimes here in Hawaii is domestic violence, and yet police records and court documents reveal that domestic violence has been a serious, often fatal, occurrence here in our state that is usually symbolic of beauty and aloha.
Anyone can become a victim of domestic violence, and it can happen during any phase in a relationship – it doesn’t matter if it’s during a first date, or if a couple has been married for 50+ years, domestic violence doesn’t discriminate in that regard.
Domestic violence is recognized by a variety of harmful behavioral patterns involving one partner, usually a male, exerting power and control over his partner. Domestic violence, also known as ‘intimate partner violence', can take the form of physical assault, psychological abuse, social abuse, financial abuse, or sexual assault (Kaur, 2008, p.1).
Perpetrators of domestic violence have various methods to scare their victims into submission, that may include stalking, threats of intimidation, psychological/emotional abuse, financial deprivation, sexual violence, and physical injury. While there is no typical profile of an abuser, they all seem to use similar bullying tactics to get their point across. Often times, it’s with their fists, their most available weapon of destruction, but other times they attack psychologically, which can be just as painful, using lowly words of degradation and humiliation to hurt their victims and break them emotionally.
The legal definition of domestic abuse in Hawaii may fall under any one of these categories;