AADSV sponsors National Domestic Violence Hotline training
Representatives from the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) recently spent three days in the territory to share their experiences and insights with local public and private human service agencies on how to best handle crisis telephone calls during the NDVH Training sponsored by the American Samoa Alliance Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (AADSV).
During the workshop/training, which took place from August 21st to 23rd, NDVH personnel Melissa Kaufmann, Volunteer and Training Manager; Liz Range-Pendell, Volunteer and Training Manager; and Sherene Abraham, Manager of Hotline Services gave presentations and led activities designed to increase awareness of how to best assist victims of domestic violence who reach out for help on the telephone.
“The NDVH offers training and technical assistance to all coalitions, alliances, and local service providers working with victims and survivors of domestic violence in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and US Territories,” said Kaufmann. “We were invited by Faaalu Faletoese luli of the AADSV to provide training to local community partners who wished to join and share information on how best to serve victims and survivors of intimate partner violence.”
The main theme of the workshop was "Connections", and one goal of the NDVH visitors was to connect anyone in American Samoa who is interested in ending intimate partner violence together to develop an understanding of what violence in relationships looks like here, and how victim service providers can offer the highest quality of assistance and work together to end violence in families.
“’Connections’ is not only about how victims can connect to services,” explained Kaufmann, “but also how we as advocates and communities connect to one another to ensure victims and survivors have access to safety and information.”
Asked if she perceived any significant differences between cases of domestic violence in American Samoa and the rest of the country, based on incidents shared by local service providers, Kaufmann replied that all such incidents typically reflect a power dynamic.
“Domestic Violence does not discriminate,” she reflected. “It’s not isolated to any single geographic region, socioeconomic status, race, or gender. No matter what culture we step into, domestic violence is based on the need for one partner to exert power and control over the other. When discussing domestic violence during the workshop, the stories were heard were very familiar to stories we hear from all across the United States. That being said, different cultures may have their own unique considerations, reactions and strategies to best serve victims, but at the end of the day everyone wants to be loved and treated with dignity and respect.”
Although dealing with a subject of the utmost seriousness, the NDVH visitors nevertheless had high praise for the Samoan hospitality shown by the AADSV staff as well as the participating local agencies.
“We are so thrilled with our experience!” relayed Kaufmann. “The people of American Samoa were amazing and this was a life-changing experience.” For making the workshop a success, Kaufmann expressed her gratitude to Congressman Faleomavaega, Mitzi Jessop Folau (Deputy Attorney General), Ipu Lefiti (Congressman Eni F.H. Faleomavaega's Office), Faaalu Faletoese luli (Executive Director of ASAADSV) and Liliu Mailo (Executive Director of ASCADSV) for their assistance in bringing the many voices to the table. “Our time on American Samoa was enlightening and rich with cultural experiences,” she said.
Local human service agencies whose representatives attended the NDVH workshop included the Department of Public Safety, the American Samoa Community College, the Department of Human and Social Services, Teen Challenge, Survivors Taking Action Through Sharing, Toe Afua Mai Matua, American Samoa on Aging, the Society of Indigenous Education in American Samoa, Catholic Social Services, the Coalition on Teen Pregnancy, and the Department of Education – Guidance and Counseling.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline was established in 1996 as a component of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed by Congress. The Hotline is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-799-SAFE and offers crisis intervention, safety planning and education with the goal of connecting the callers to resources in their local community. More information on the NDVH is available online at: HYPERLINK "http://www.thehotline.org" www.thehotline.org.
The American Samoa Alliance Against Domestic and Sexual violence seeks support and develop an inclusive and integrated island-wide and regional organization made up of a diverse group of individuals and organizations that come together to provide leadership and direction through a coordinated response against domestic violence, sexual assault and other forms of family violence in the Territory of American Samoa.
The AADSV has a number of activities planned for October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Find out more about the AADSV by visiting their headquarters in the former Origin Energy site in Nu’uuli, or by calling them at 699- 0272.
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