HONOLULU - For many who have suffered from domestic violence or dealt with victims, the individuals are all unique but the crime- far from it. Katherine Aikau is a former abuse victim, but she now volunteers with the Domestic Violence Action Center. "It is amazing how the stories and similarities are," Aikau notes. 

The state auditor found, over a four year period there were more than 7,000 arrests by Honolulu police for misdemeanor and felony domestic violence. It is a crime police chief Susan Ballard takes personally. "Before I came into the police department, I was a domestic violence victim. It was HPD that got me out of it, so I have a personal interest in this as well."

But she says while officers make arrests many times, suspected abusers are not charged. Of all the thousands of suspects arrested for felony abuse, only 40% of their cases are passed onto prosecutors. And of those cases, fewer than 15% are ultimately charged, frustrating police and victims. 

Chief Ballard says, "They do get frustrated because they get called to these cases over and over again. There is that frustration when these people are arrested and not prosecuted."

Aikau adds, "The abuser learns how to use the system to keep that control and terrorizing the victim and keep them in their life, so the court system gets used."

The challenge doesn't end once a case goes to court. Many times, victims refuse to testify or cooperate because they are afraid of implicating their abuser. Chief Ballard explains, "The prosecutors go to court, and the defendant is sitting there with the victim, and it is a difficult situation."

When it comes to misdemeanor cases, 60% of those that go before a judge or jury end up being dismissed. Aikau sees that in her volunteer work and says, "I am frustrated with the police, the family court system, and judges."

Honolulu police hope the addition of new body cameras will provide more evidence that will send more cases to court and result in more convictions. Chief Ballard reminds, "We're an important piece of this puzzle, but if there are not consequences of their actions, then we can't get them prosecuted and convicted, which is difficult."

Some would also like to see the cases moved to family court, where they would be handled differently- in the hopes of also sending a stronger message to domestic violence abusers.