HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – Juliet Lighter-Kamm was crowned Miss Hawaii USA in 2002. Her platform back then and still is dating violence.
“It was really the first time I spoke about my abusive relationships on a public platform,” she said.
In high school, an abusive boyfriend left her hospitalized, suffering from emotional and physical wounds. “Prior to me leaving him he had broken two ribs and damaged my eye socket,” she said.
“It took me to get beaten physically so badly to the point that I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t lift my head for me to realize I’m really in trouble,” she added.
It took years to heal and discover her self-worth, but she fears the pandemic has left victims feeling trapped. “For victims, they don’t have the support,” said Lighter-Kamm.
Nanci Kreidman, executive director of the Domestic Violence Action Center, says the organization has seen increased demand for services amid the pnademic.
In December 2019, it had 1,234 client contacts. In December 2020, that number had jumped to 3,189.
Kreidman anticipates even more help will be needed in 2021.
“What we feared has come to pass. People are in danger and being harmed behind closed doors. The system isn’t working all that well,” said Kreidman.
“We’ve seen the number of people seeking restraining orders slowly increase,” she added.
Today, Lighter-Kamm is happily married and runs a nonprofit called Women Speaking Out to help educate young people about preventing dating violence.
“We really want to empower young women and men to know about dating violence, but also know their self worth,” she said.
Women Speaking Out is holding a Speak Love Virtual Conference at 10 a.m. Saturday. Click here to register.
If you’re in an abusive relationship, seek help at the Domestic Violence Action Center. Click here for their website or reach out to them by phone:
- Oahu Helpline: 531-3771
- Toll-free Helpline: (800) 690-6200
- Text line: (605) 956-5680