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StrongHearts Native Helpline Celebrates Third Year in Service

 In Domestic Violence Awareness, Domestic Violence in Indian Country, Services for Native Survivors

On March 6, 2020, StrongHearts Native Helpline (SHNH) marked its third year of operation by providing a safe, anonymous and confidential helpline for American Indians and Alaska Natives affected by domestic violence. Over 5,057 callers have been served in the three years of operation.

In the Beginning

“StrongHearts came to fruition with support and in partnership with National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) as well as the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC),” explained Lori Jump, StrongHearts Director.  The Hotline and NIWRC played vital roles in establishing the StrongHearts Helpline.

StrongHearts defined their mission to restore power to Native Americans impacted by domestic violence by weaving a braid of safety, sovereignty and support. StrongHearts envisions a return to traditional lifeways where all relations are safe, violence eradicated and sacredness restored.

“In its first year of operation, staff was recruited from all corners of the United States,” said Jump. “In the second year of operation, we established our home office in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. Minnesota is home to eleven tribal Nations, which is important to us as a Native American organization. Minnesota also has a long history of being a leader in the domestic violence field. Entering our third year, we look forward to expanding.”

On the Horizon

“We’ve come a long way since the start but we still have a long way to go,” said Jump. “We were tasked with developing a helpline that would meet the unique needs of Native populations and recognized cultural sensitivity was a key component to building trust within Native communities.”

American Indians and Alaska Natives face many barriers to safety and justice including geographical isolation and distrust of law enforcement. A complicated judicial system with cross-jurisdictional issues is another barrier to seeking help and/or reporting when a crime has occurred.

“We are taking calls, sharing resources and providing access to services that promote healing,” concluded Jump. “We continue to grow and look forward to meeting the needs of Native Americans and Alaskan Natives in the years ahead.”

Important Statistics

More than 4 in 5 Native Americans have experienced violence in their lifetime. (NIJ)

More than 1 in 2 Native women (55.5%) and 1 in 3 Native men (43.2%) have experienced physical violence by intimate partners in their lifetime. (NIJ)

For Native victims of physical intimate partner violence, stalking, and sexual violence, 2 in 5 Native women (38.2%) and 1 in 6 Native men (16.9%) were unable to get the services they needed. (NIJ)

Native women and men are five times as likely to have experienced physical violence by a non-Native intimate partner as compared to non-natives. (NIJ)

Native women and men are: • 2 times more likely to experience rape/sexual assault • 2.5 times more likely to experience violent crimes (NIJ)

Homicide is a leading cause of death for Native women. (CDC)

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