Native American and Alaska Native women suffer from the nation’s highest rates of domestic and sexual violence. StrongHearts Native Helpline was created specifically for Indigenous communities to feel comfortable and re-empower those who this violence has impacted. StrongHearts is a product of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center. It is available 24 hours a day either by calling or texting 1-844-762-8483 or through an online chat on their website strongheartshelpline.org.
Native American women suffer from domestic violence and abuse 10 times the Nationals average. According to a National Institute of Justice study, about 84.3% of Native American women have experienced domestic violence and abuse in their lifetime. “…the National Domestic Violence Hotline realized that in spite of the super-high rates in Indian country, Native Americans did not really reach out to the hotline for help…” said Lori Jump, the Director of StrongHearts.
“…there are so many people that call us who don’t realize that what they’re experiencing is domestic violence. So many people feel that if it’s not physical then it doesn’t count as domestic violence and that’s just not the truth. There are many different ways to abuse somebody and that’s why raising awareness is so important, it’s to educate people, especially those that might be experiencing it. It’s to let them know that there are options out there, that there’s help.” continued Jump.
Mellissa Holder, University of Kansas faculty and 1995 HINU alumna said, “It is important to bring awareness about domestic and sexual abuse because individual wellness equals community and tribal wellness. If we continue to normalize or dismiss domestic and sexual abuse then our communities become numb to the individual cases.”
Those who might not have the time to call StrongHearts Native Helpline or can’t get to a secure place to make a call can send a text to the helpline. StrongHearts added a text feature where you can communicate anonymously through text. “…texting and chatting are the main forms of communication outside of face-to-face for younger people. I think it removes a barrier, sometimes saying it out loud makes it more real, and sometimes texting it or chatting it without actually having to say those words to another person is easier…” commented Jump.
Holder said, “… if a person is not ready to come forward, then I would recommend they identify their support system and use the resources available to them to keep themselves safe until they are comfortable (or able) to move forward….”
“I encourage family and friends to be good allies and also be patient with the person experiencing abuse. People often question why someone doesn’t just leave, and for many, there are multiple factors involved that make the ‘just leaving’ much more difficult.” added Holder on important things to remember when confronting someone who is experiencing domestic abuse. StrongHearts also offers resources for friends and relatives of victims of abuse.
If you are experiencing domestic or sexual abuse StrongHearts Native Helpine is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. You can reach the StrongHearts helpline at 1-844-762-8483 or at https://strongheartshelpline.org/get-help to access their text line.
Students can also speak with Haskell’s Interim Title IX Coordinator, Ms. Tonia Salvini. The Title IX Office for Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence is located in Pushmataha hall (155 Indian Avenue Lawrence, KS 66046) or call 785-749- 8457. Here, students can file a complaint and talk with the Title IX Coordinator about concerns involving sexual harassment, sexual assault, and domestic violence.