Sex-assault services in peril

  • Contributed

    For 20 years, Renae Hamilton-Cambeilh has led Kauai’s YWCA.

LIHU‘E — At any hour, any day of the week, the YWCA can offer an immediate crisis response to victims of sexual assault. And as cutbacks are sweeping at every level, this service is threatened.

“We are concerned about the impact that a pretty-substantial, proposed funding reduction to our sex-assault services will have on our community,” YWCA Executive Director Renae Hamilton-Cambeilh said.

In January, the state proposed a $714,000-a-year cut to its contract with the Sex Abuse Treatment Center, which subcontracts for treatment services with the YWCA of Kaua‘i.

Locally, that’d be a loss of around $122,000 in funding for programs including the 24-hour, year-round, crisis-intervention program, as well as a reduction in clinical counseling and prevention education.

These programs are funded through outside grants and federal, state and county funds, with the state’s portion making up the most of the operationional money. If approved by the state Legislature, these impacts would begin in July.

This potential defunding for YWCA would be “detrimental to victims and the investigation process,” Kaua‘i Police Department Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce said last week.

When a sex assault is called in, the KPD activates its Sexual Assault Response Team, which includes law enforcement, nurses, the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and the YWCA.

Calls can come in at any time, and a key part of this team effort, Ponce said, is a victim advocate from YWCA who offers support during sex-assault exams, police reports and counseling.

In 2020, over 130 people received crisis services. YWCA assisted in the completion of 14 sexual assault nurse examiner exams. Nine of these exams were completed outside of business hours.

“In the event we don’t have advocates, we try our best,” Ponce said, but without any female detectives on the force currently, this process can be difficult.

“If you have a female victim, they may be weary without another female in the room,” Ponce explained.

That training could cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 per patrol officer to have the type of training required to work with sex-assault victims, Ponce estimated.

“Evidence shows that when it comes to following through with police reports, following through with exams, you have a higher percentage who will make a police report when they have an advocate who’s there for them providing emotional support and giving them the information that they need to make decisions for themselves,” Hamilton-Cambeilh said.

The YWCA offers the only service of its kind on Kaua‘i. Hamilton-Cambeilh also anticipating cutting back its clinical-counseling services, which helped 88 people last year.

“If there is a waitlist, a family who is now going through this horrible, traumatic experience, they now would have to wait for clinical treatment,” Hamilton-Cambeilh said. “In the initial crisis phase, whether that’s 2 o’clock in the morning or 2 o’clock in the afternoon, we have our crisis-intervention counselor who will go out and meet people and be there.”

Further, prevention education would be reduced by about half, Hamilton-Cambeilh said.

“Fewer students would receive the information that they would need, the support, opportunities that they would have to make reports,” Hamilton-Cambeilh said. “Less staff being able to deliver those services would make a huge difference.”

County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar underscored that while there may be funding cutbacks, services will continue.

“The implosion of the state budget has resulted in a reduction in the amount of money available for us to sub-grant out to our contractors,” Kollar said in a statement Wednesday.

“We are fortunate to be able to maintain the funding for these programs even at a reduced level, and we expect that we and all our vendors will continue providing services to crime victims and survivors at the same high level we do currently,” Kollar said.

A cut came to the YWCA before, in 2008 during the recession, and because of the pandemic, a 10% restriction came this fiscal year.

“Our programs are so bare-bones … but this 30% that would be effective July 1 goes really deep into our programs,” Hamilton-Cambeilh said. “Having our team reduced by 30% (it) is really hard to underscore how devastating that’s going to be.”


Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or

  1. Rev Dr Malama February 22, 2021 9:29 am Reply

    Don’t let this happen! Call and write your representatives today!!!!
    This pandemic lockdown is causing much more harm to women and children than ever and shame on the prosecutor for reducing the impact by calling YWCA “venders”…. Sexual assault has heros in YWCA trained advocates to help people come forward to process and prosecute the perpetrators of abuse…. also giving support to exit toxic situations.
    It wasn’t long ago that all the rape kits magically disappeared from the police department….. before being used as evidence….. so PLEASE think about your child, sibling, friend or significant other being more vulnerable than ever so the state can build a new water feature at the capital and all the other wasteful activities they spend our money on.

  2. USAF Brat February 23, 2021 8:23 am Reply

    Long before technology kicked in ’73, finishing acceptance as student and teachings of the KCC A.D. R.N. Nursing program, I was hired as a WH/KMG switchboard operator, floater ER/ICU ward clerk, and transcriptionist associate. In ’79, I also became sole proprietor entrepreneur owner operator of Central Answering Service Physicians Exchange. Back then, Hawaiian Tel only had “beepers” or a rare car phone was a huge commodity for BZ building contractors, Kauai Commercial, one-man growing their business models, or booking agent for a dozen tourist-related corporates like CJM Country Stables, Captain Andy’s, helicoptor companies etc. In the beginning there were 15 and in less than six months 60+/- small businesses found benefit from this emergency call center, ‘live voice’ 24-7-365. The YWCA was one of the original clients that this 50-phone line cable business managed. The on-call rape crisis hotline, often was enroute, as Central fielded the original ER out-call. YWCA advocate dispatched to WH came in from Kilauea. Since my team worked out from my Kapaia Home, I would drive up to the ER to meet with the victim inbetween, lending support while ER staff, KPD and other responders did the necessary evaluations, rape kit swabbing, and an entire gamet to assist with the problem. Aqua Engineers, a successful profit-sharing corporation had on-call alarm employee/technicians for sewer overflow issues, Dixon Service trucks boasted “your dodo is my bread and butter” or Tow in Paradise “Lay your body on my bed” did their due diligence. The Independent as well as KMG medical professionals on-call, contracted with “Central” and were each given a voice pager. AA/NA meeting schedule and assistance was made available via their hotline and the FAA ordered a Helicoptor hotline due to complaints from vietnam veterans and others who knew that out of control flights were ruining the ambience that existed then. Motorola sold Central a voice paging beeper system with two base stations. Thanks to Drs Weiner Kalaheo Clinic and WH roofs, those base-station placements were key to acquiring islandwide coverage. Iwa forced Central to move to Rice Street upstairs to City Liquor and the Hideaway. 60 new clients most if not all of them in the building industry, transplanted to Kauai fixing destruction, and repeat 10-years later Iniki, where TGI noted a second out-going of 5000 local B&R families who left Kauai forever, displaced, as they are much more radically today. The newbies have kept coming including Hollywood, Z, O, and E billionaaire, including but not limited to Elizabeth Tayor (Ke’e Taylor Camp) and Bette Midler. Gone forever too, was Club Jetty. Enter collusion, criminality, maneuvers, manipulations and true story books published of ALL governor-mayors, council, COK departments today to retroactively, the politico-judicio-military, and it is no wonder why the YWCA is in a jar of pickled mango. GAME OVER mode has kicked some okole and now these same hui O’s need to fess up, tell the truth and have some integrity. Simple? Except Kollar wants to move himself and his victim witness team out from their neighborly setting across the hall from KPD chiefs into the Adolescent Treatment Center mauka Kapaia and our current mayor tells during this last year, that we must follow a prosecuting attorney covid rules or be arrested, whereby we will then be needing to “cut bait”, while Mayor and the loser suppos-ed teacher wife boast gucchi-wear and surf site ‘Go-Pro 9’ obviously a buy-off and social media braggarts who have completely destroyed what was. Now, You all pay to play and there are too many of us that were in the background that saw and lived the mess that exists, yet you all continue to lie, cheat, steal and kick us under the Kauai Bus. Did someone ever mention the word Karma?

  3. Caroline Tapia February 24, 2021 8:14 pm Reply

    The YWCA has literally saved 2 of my very best friends along with their children.
    They are a God sent and are there to always help!
    It’s an absolute crying shame to cut their funds.
    Whoever is responsible should be ashamed. I’m praying for YWCA and for Gods favor to pour out over them all! The good in this is to bring attention to all the amazing deeds they have done! Hands and feet of Jesus….

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