The StrongHearts Native Helpline (1-844-7NATIVE) the first national helpline created specifically to support Native American survivors and concerned family members and friends affected by domestic violence and dating violence, is celebrating its first year in operation.
StrongHearts Native Helpline (StrongHearts) has been in service since March 6, 2017, and has responded to calls from 68 American Indian and Alaska Native communities across 40 states, and have offered support services specifically dedicated toward Native survivors of intimate partner abuse.
Last year, StrongHearts launched as a collaborative project of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and the National Domestic Violence Hotline, as one way to treat the epidemic of violence in Native communities.
“We are humbled with how much support the StrongHearts Native Helpline is receiving from advocates, programs and tribes across Indian Country and our Alaska Native villages,” said StrongHearts Assistant Director Lori Jump, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, in a release. “Every day is a step forward in the work to support Native survivors of abuse. Advocating for our callers is at the heart of what we do and why we chose to dedicate this first year to them. To all our Native survivors out there, we hear you—we hear your stories. You are not alone.” StrongHearts expanded to serve all Native American communities across the U.S. with an initial outreach in the states of Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska. By the end of 2017, the StrongHearts team completed its database project to identify culturally-specific and tribally-based resources for American Indians and Alaska Natives. According to a recent study by National Institute of Justice, more than four in five Native women and men have experienced violence in their lifetime, and more than one in three Native people have experienced violence within the past year. Of those who had experienced violence, more than one in three Native women and more than one in six Native men were unable to access the supportive services they needed. “What we confirmed after completing our database project is what we’ve known all along—there is a severe gap in culturally-specific or tribally-run services for Native survivors in the aftermath of these crimes,” said Caroline LaPorte, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Senior Native Affairs Policy Advisor for NIWRC and StrongHearts in the release. “We know that we cannot do this work alone—our callers need to be able to access culturally appropriate, community-based resources.” The NIJ report highlighted the rates of violence perpetrated against Native Americans and reported Native Americans are twice as likely to experience rape or sexual assault and are five times more likely to be victims of homicide in their lifetime when compared to other groups in the U.S. “Our goal at StrongHearts is to do whatever we can to weave together a support network for Native people in a way that promotes safety and healing,” Jump said. “We have connected with so many of our relatives who have shared their stories and have told us how much the helpline is needed, and how much our peer-to-peer advocacy has helped them. Healing begins in our communities when we share our stories. This is at the heart of what the StrongHearts Native Helpline is all about.” About the StrongHearts Native Helpline Created by and built to serve tribal communities across the United States, the StrongHearts Native Helpline, a project of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, is a culturally-appropriate, anonymous, confidential and no-cost service dedicated to serving Native American survivors of domestic violence and dating violence, along with their concerned family members and friends. By dialing 1-844-7NATIVE (1-844-762-8483) Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm CST, callers can connect, at no cost one-on-one, with knowledgeable StrongHearts advocates who can provide lifesaving tools and immediate support to enable survivors to find safety and live lives free of abuse. Learn more about the StrongHearts Native Helpline at www.strongheartshelpline.org. Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on TwitterFollow @VinceSchilling