Domestic Violence Action Center introduces Council of Allies for 30th Anniversary

This year, the Domestic Violence Action Center (DVAC) is celebrating 30 years of service in Hawaii and has strategically recruited a dedicated group of Council of Allies to promote the work and ongoing necessity of DVAC in Hawaii. These 11 members are all from varied sectors (education, health, government, financial institutions, etc.), and each one has a strong presence and influence in the community.

“Domestic violence is personal for each of us — it impacts our loved ones, families, friends, and communities. And too often it is suffered in silence,” says Kamehameha Schools CEO Jack Wong. “I am here, like the other members of the Council, because we know we have kuleana to listen, respond and support. And perhaps more importantly for me, in education, we know we also have a role in preventing domestic violence.”

At Kamehameha Schools, Wong says the school’s educational foundation is built on E Ola and developing the innate strength of its keiki and their Hawaiian cultural identity and Christian values.

“As strong Native Hawaiians, they will be able to use their voice to advocate for themselves and those in their community-in-need,” he says. “To build this strength in our keiki, we recognize that we have to create a culture that promotes listening, support, and advocacy for and amongst our students.”

The Domestic Violence Action Center is critical for schools and for all keiki, families and communities as it provides everyone with needed resources, support and education.

“This Pandemic has created more stressful conditions at home and more isolation. It has been even more difficult for schools and communities to observe and respond to signs of domestic violence,” Wong says. “This is a problem in every community and is why the work of the Domestic Violence Action Center is so important.”

As an example, DVAC has been providing training at schools to help staff better understand the complexities of teen relationships in this next generation, especially those relationships founded in social media and virtual spaces.

“We must encourage one another to talk about the problem, which touches all sectors of our community,” says Maya Soetoro-Ng, a consultant with the Obama Foundation. “With permission and candor, we can create a system that helps survivors and families when they are in danger.”

Soetoro-Ng has also done considerable work with teachers and students as well, with Seeds of Peace, a community organization. She says she’s seen slow improvement in the ways schools address relationship violence, but she would love to see more engagement and commitment.

“We are all stakeholders working towards a safe community,” she adds. “Safe families are at the core of a healthy community. I feel a responsibility to be a part of this work.”

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