Domestic Violence & Cultural Challenges: Native American Community

Domestic Violence & Cultural Challenges: Native American Community

Bringing Healing to The Native American Community

Every November, we celebrate the culture and heritage of our Native brothers and sisters. As we admire their beautiful culture, it is also important to recognize, discuss, and address prevalent issues they may face. Like every other demographic, as a community we must stop at nothing to help eliminate prolonged systems and trends which may have a hold of them in any way. This month, DeeCilla has decided to dedicate time to bring to light issues and barriers which loom over Native communities.

Native Americans experience emotional and physical domestic violence at a rate of about 83% in their lifetimes. This is an average rate which is notably higher than that of white and african american counterparts. About 3 million Natives experience some form of physical, psychological, or sexual violence domestically. In addition to these high percentages, studies have found that men and women both experience abuse at similar rates but due to different causes. Men experience more psychological abuse, whereas women experience higher levels of sexual violence and stalking.

Unfortunately, about 38% of Native survivors who are in need of some sort of medical or legal assistance are unable to receive the necessary services. There are also significant barriers and disparities in Native communities when it comes to access to health care and health outcomes. This is highlighted in previously conducted research along with the fact that Natives tend to experience more challenges in acquiring legal assistance and any additional services. This highlights we must work together in an effort to link resources to Native survivors at much higher rates while providing accessible and affordable modes of assistance.

Discussions about race and ethnicity are important in addressing the fact that more violence is experienced between interracial perpetrators in comparison to intraracial perpetrators. In recognizing this, it is important to advocate for legal and social services for Natives and prosecution of perpetrators to achieve justice in any way possible. These disparities and gaps compromise the safety of tribal communities and promote barriers in access to outlets of assistance and justice for survivors.

After recognizing these challenges, it is on us to come together to help Native communities. In the past there have been social and legislative efforts to alleviate these challenges but we must continue to advance them today. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 in part assisted survivors by providing special domestic violence criminal juridisction to federally recognizes tribes. Though this is great, there is still significant progress we can all make to help eradicate these issues and disparities. Tribal coalitions such as Strong Hearted Native Women, Yup’ik Women’s, Southwest Indigenous Women’s, Hopi-Tewa Women’s coalition and many more have been developed to do just that. It is important to connect Native individuals to these resources which will cater specifically to them, while we simultaneously develop plans to contribute where we can.