On its second year anniversary, the StrongHearts Native Helpline (1-844-7NATIVE) announced the expansion of its hours of operation, which are now 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CST, seven days a week, in order to better serve those impacted by domestic violence and dating violence in tribal communities across the U.S. Callers reaching out after hours have the option to connect with the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) by selecting option 1. To date, the helpline has received more than 2,100 calls from victims, survivors, concerned family members and friends, service providers, and more, helping to close a gap in culturally-appropriate resources for those facing abuse.
With the support from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, StrongHearts has established its first call center located in Eagan, Minnesota. StrongHearts has increased its staff of advocates in order to respond to callers, many of whom are seeking support as they navigate difficult barriers to justice and safety. Trained with a strong understanding of tribal cultures, sovereignty, and law, advocates offer free, peer-to-peer support and a connection to local, culturally appropriate resources.
"After hearing from so many tribes and advocates about their community needs, we are so pleased to expand our operating hours to better serve Native victims of relationship abuse," said StrongHearts Assistant Director Lori Jump (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians). "Domestic violence impacts our relatives every hour of every day, so it’s critical for us to be available as much as possible. Yet, we also understand we can’t do this work alone. We are honored to be working alongside tribal advocates and programs doing this good work to help Native people seek lives that are free of abuse."
Domestic violence remains a severe issue in tribal communities, where half of Native American women and a third of Native men have experienced physical abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime, according to a study by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The study also found for those who had experienced violence, more than a third of Native women and more than one in six Native men were unable to access the services they needed, such as shelters, legal advocacy, and medical services.
"When victims can’t access services, more specifically, services that understand their unique worldview and culture, it leaves little room for healing and restoration," Jump said. "Our people are strong and resilient, but it is crucial that we create spaces where survivors of violence feel safe and empowered to make the best decisions for themselves and their families along their healing journey, wherever it leads. We are here for our relatives. No one should have to face violence alone."