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"RESPONSE TO ACTING DIRECTOR OF DYWA REMARKS”

Dear Editior,
 
In response to the story published on October 16, 2013 by Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu, entitled “Remarks made by Acting Director of DYWA stir up furor.”
 
I am Sala Fuchs, Samoan; granddaughter of the late Ioana Seu Asaeli and great granddaughter of the late Milia Hunkin Samia. I was recently on the island with training team members from the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) where I am currently employed.
 
We were invited to the island by the American Samoa Alliance against Domestic and Sexual Violence. We met with their staff and other community leaders and shared information on enhancing advocacy skills that support the needs of those affected by domestic violence. It was exciting to see the passion and commitment displayed by the men and women dedicated to serving victims and survivors of domestic violence.
 
It saddens me to learn that the results of Mr. Ausage’s personal survey in which he reports respondents indicated the victims may be contributing, or even to blame, for the behaviors resulting in domestic violence in the home by their inability to contribute financially, control their mate’s sex drive, and the lack of maintaining an attractive physical appearance.
 
While I am saddened to learn these results, I am extremely encouraged to read the comments from many of your readers who speak out against victim blaming. Speaking out against domestic violence and the barriers that victims in your community face, allows those affected by domestic violence a sense of strength in knowing that the community cares and that they are collaborating and working together for the good of all!
 
Domestic violence does not discriminate and there is never any excuse for allowing verbal or physical abuse. No one has the right to violate a person verbally or physically. Victim blaming and victim blaming attitudes serve as a barrier to those affected by domestic violence. This barrier jeopardizes the safety of the victim/survivor, and this attitude marginalizes the victim/survivor making it more difficult to reach out for assistance or to share their experiences when they are ready.
 
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is currently working to establish local phone lines through American Samoa Telecommunications Authority and Blue Sky enabling calls to the hotline free of charge.
 
This off island resource will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to  anyone (victim, survivor, family member, co-worker) calling the hotline to seek help or ask questions they may have about domestic violence. All calls are anonymous and confidential. Advocates are trained on the cultural implications that are unique to American Samoa.
 
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is pleased to offer this off island resource that provides additional support to the victims/survivors/family members needing space to seek information anonymously and talk confidentially.
 
We are also pleased to be able to provide these callers information, safety planning and referrals to the organizations on the island that are available and dedicated to supporting the needs of victims and survivors of domestic violence in American Samoa.
 
Visitors to www.TheHotline.org can find information about domestic violence, safety planning and how to find help.
 
Sala Fuchs
Administrative Support Specialist
National Domestic Violence Hotline
 
 



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