Domestic Violence Spikes During Pandemic


The Native Hawaiian COVID-19 Research Hui (a collaboration between the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Kamehameha Schools and Liliʻuokalani Trust), in partnership with the Domestic Violence Action Center (DVAC), recently published a report illuminating an important yet under-addressed consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic: the rise of intimate partner violence, particularly among the Native Hawaiian population.

The report, “Native Hawaiians At-Risk of Intimate Partner Violence During COVID-19,” examines the increase in both domestic and intimate partner violence in the state of Hawaiʻi, a trend that is reflected globally.

Due to stay-at-home and various quarantine mandates, domestic violence survivors have been forced to stay in the home or be in close proximity to their abusers more frequently. The increased stress resulting from these mandates has increased the incidents of abuse. Between March and October 2020, Hawaiʻi’s DVAC Helpline reported a 46% increase in calls.

While domestic violence is not limited to certain ethnicities, cultures or socioeconomic groups, in Hawaiʻi Native Hawaiian adults have disproportionately reported greater rates of intimate partner violence, both physical and sexual, than the rest of the population during the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, the rise of domestic violence is not solely a Native Hawaiian concern. In particular, Pacific Islander and Caucasian communities in Hawaiʻi also reported higher rates of intimate partner violence.

Limited access to culturally based medical and mental health care, increased economic stress, historical trauma, and racialized structures of inequality linked to legacies of colonization and imperialism all contribute to this trend.

The intersections of other social issues such as homelessness and poverty compound the risk of intimate partner violence in Hawaiʻi. Other vulnerabilities such as pregnancy or youth status can also result in higher rates of abuse.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the conditions that increase the risks of intimate partner violence, adding to known (and pre-existing) risk factors such as poverty, income inequality, lack of educational opportunities, and limited access to quality healthcare. To combat this trend, building protective factors such as increasing cultural resilience, social support, and community cohesion can reduce the overall rate and help to address intimate partner violence among Native Hawaiians.

Domestic violence is chronically under-reported. If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence, help is available. For more information, contact the Domestic Violence Action Center at: or call them at 808-531-3771 (Oʻahu); 800-690-6200 (toll-free helpline); or text 605-956-5680.

To read the full report go to:

Native Hawaiians experience high rates of intimate partner violence

Like other Indigenous and marginalized peoples, Native Hawaiians in the State of Hawaiʻi report relatively high rates of intimate partner violence when compared to non-Hawaiians and the total state population. It is important to note that limited access to culturally based medical and mental health care, increased economic stresses, experiences of historical trauma, denial of self-determination, and racialized structures of inequality linked to legacies of colonization, imperialism, and dispossession of land are important parts of the context in which these choices are made.

Download the Report (PDF Format)