EAGAN, MN – While Native Americans and Alaska Natives experience the highest rates of domestic and sexual violence in America, the disparity in services and available resources has not only contributed to the continued perpetuation of violence, it has hindered the healing process needed to recover.
A tool of colonization and subjugation, sexual violence continues to impact Indigenous peoples today. Within four years of operation, StrongHearts Native Helpline identified sexual violence support as an unmet need and took action. In August 2020, StrongHearts advocates completed specialized training and StrongHearts added sexual violence advocacy to their list of services.
“Sexual violence has plagued Native communities for centuries and a disparity of services and resources renders the victim invisible,” said Lori Jump (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians), director, StrongHearts Native Helpline. “In order to assist our relatives on their healing journey, we must address violence on every level.” Sexual violence is an umbrella term that refers to any sexual contact without the consent of all parties.
One year after launching sexual violence advocacy, StrongHearts is releasing the data it has collected about this issue among our contacts. Out of all Native American victim-survivors who sought help for sexual violence, 90 percent identified as female. The report also charted the following age demographics and areas of need.
Of all Native American and Alaska Native contacts who experienced sexual violence:
- 35 percent were 25 to 36 years of age.
- 32 percent were 37 to 48 years of age.
- 19 percent were 13 to 24 years of age.
- 15 percent were 49 to 60+ years of age.
The top three needs of Native American and Alaska Native sexual violence victim survivors are listed in order of prevalence:
- 64 percent needed peer support.
- 33 percent needed legal advocacy.
- 28 percent needed shelter.
Based on the data collected, sexual violence survivors who reached out to StrongHearts are mostly females between the ages of 25 to 48 who have been hurt by their intimate partner and are seeking peer support.
“The information gleaned from these numbers will be used to further develop advocate training and to gear it toward meeting the needs of victim-survivors of domestic and sexual violence,” concluded Jump. “Native peoples have been underserved with little to no access to resources. We intend to bridge the gap between victim services and those who need them.”
StrongHearts Native Helpline is a 24/7 culturally-appropriate domestic, dating and sexual violence helpline for Native Americans and Alaska Natives, available by calling or texting 1-844-762-8483 or clicking on the chat icon at strongheartshelpline.org. Advocates offer peer support, crisis intervention, safety planning and referrals to Native-centered services. StrongHearts Native Helpline is a proud partner of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.