“DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN AMERICAN SAMOA RUNS RAMPANT IN OUR COMMUNITY”
Domestic Violence in American Samoa runs rampant in our community. One out of four women in the US face intimate violence between partners, versus Pacific Islander Women, which is two out of three women. (Goydych, 2017)
Domestic Violence is not new in our territory. It appears in our villages, our churches, our homes, and in our families. Over the last few years Samoa News reported domestic violence stories. Three accounts include (1) extradited former American Samoa police officer who assaulted his wife in Washington, (2) man charged with allegedly assaulting his wife in a moving vehicle, and (3) a man who allegedly assaulted wife who was mowing the grass rather than cooking his meal. This past week it was reported Jonathan Fanene, a former ASG Director, was charged for abusing his wife, and his sister. The victim’s account of the horrific abuse has united our community in the fight to eliminate domestic violence. It is crucial we do more to eliminate domestic violence in our community.
Traditionally, our families consider domestic violence a private matter, and hide behind a veil of silence, yet we know that the prevalence, causes and consequence of domestic violence is linked with power and control. A batterer makes a choice to abuse, and it is not something that happens because he/she has “lost control”. The batterer is selective when the abuse begins, meaning he/ she is in control. The victim is on an emotional roller coaster, which is driven by the batterer’s behavior. The “Continuum of Violence” shows how a batterer moves between various types of abuse (emotional, financial, physical, etc.) to keep control in any given situation. Through a continuum of domestic violence, the abuse are not isolated incidents.
Domestic violence has a cycle of abuse: (1) Initial abuse occurs (physical, emotional, financial, etc.), (2) The abuser tries to control their violence tendency, and the victim tries to “keep the peace”. (3) Make-up; the abuser apologizes, tries to blame the victim. (4) Calm: parties act as if nothing is wrong. The cycle repeats itself endlessly, which can result in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for many victims. Many times, victims are denied access to adequate medical and psychological care by their abusers, making it difficult to escape the cycle of abuse. Domestic violence impacts the entire family.
On Monday, June 10th a rally was held to support Lori and other domestic violence victims. American Samoa citizens have voiced their displeasure. The Alliance commends those who fight every day to eliminate violence in our community by being advocates for victims and their families. This is not an easy road, but there are domestic violence them and agencies who work tirelessly alone to do this work. The Alliance will continue to support victims, advocates, and promote prevention, education and awareness regarding domestic violence with our member organizations.
In July the Alliance Team will promote healing for victims of domestic violence and will host a safe space for victims to share their stories. We encourage those impacted by domestic violence to join us.
In moving forward our community must focus on perpetrator accountability. What conversations are we having with our youth who use violence to control their loved ones. What conversations are our family leaders having with our youth to teach them violence is a choice. We each have a role to play in ensuring safety of our families.
If you would like to share your thoughts, we encourage you to join our community talk tables, where we talk about the issues, but focus on solutions for healing, and promoting victim safety. Contact the Alliance at 699-0272 to find out more.
This is the time American Samoa, to eliminate domestic violence in our community. Let’s continue to pave the road for justice for all victims of violence.
Jennifer F. Tofaeono,
Executive Director American Samoa Alliance against Domestic & Sexual Violence
(Ref: Goydych M. (2017) Domestic violence in the Pacific and what can be done. Retrieve on 6/8/2019 from: https://polhn.org/blog/domestic-violence-pacific-can-done
No Author. (2019) Get the Facts & Figure. Retrieved on 6/8/2019 from : <https://www.thehotline.org/resources/statistics/>)