The Family and Youth Services Bureau’s Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) Program announces the launch of the StrongHearts Native Helpline (StrongHearts) on March 6, 2017. StrongHearts is the first national helpline for Native survivors of domestic and dating violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline), in partnership with the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC), established StrongHearts to provide accessible safety planning, crisis counseling, and culturally relevant referrals for Native survivors. This effort was supported in large part through funds from the FVPSA Program.
StrongHearts will be staffed by Native domestic violence advocates with specialized expertise on violence against Native survivors. StrongHearts is connected with domestic violence organizations and programs serving Native communities across the United States. Starting on March 6th, Native survivors, friends, family and those concerned about using abuse in their relationships, along with service providers can call 1-844-7NATIVE (1-844-762-8483) for immediate help during the hours of 9:00 a.m. — 5:30 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday.
For over five years, NIWRC, as the FVPSA national indigenous resource center, has worked towards enhancing the capacity of American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, Native Hawaiians, and Tribal and Native Hawaiian organizations to respond to domestic and dating violence. StrongHearts is a direct response to addressing the high rates of relationship violence in Native communities. “The reality is that so many of our American Indian and Alaska Native people experience domestic violence and dating abuse every day,” said Lucy Rain Simpson, executive director of NIWRC and a citizen of Navajo Nation. “It has never been more evident that access for our Native people to a Native helpline will continue to bolster national efforts to restore power and safety in our tribal communities. The StrongHearts Native Helpline is ready to answer that call.”
According to the National Institute of Justice’s May 2016 Research Report, Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men, 2010 Findings From the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, more than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women and men have experienced violence in their lifetime. In addition, 55.5 percent of women and 43.2 percent of men reported experiencing physical violence by an intimate partner.
Furthermore, the NIJ research report found that “more than two in five American Indian and Alaska Native female victims reported being physically injured, and almost half reported needing services. The services most commonly needed were medical care and legal services. Unfortunately, more than a third (38 percent) was unable to receive necessary services.”
“To enhance access to services and meet the unique needs of Native survivors, a dedicated Native helpline that provides support and connections to shelter, advocacy, and other services is critical,” states Marylouise Kelley, FVPSA Program Division Director. FVPSA is the primary federal funding source for emergency shelter and other supportive services for domestic violence victims and their children. FVPSA awards formula grants to states, state domestic violence coalitions, and tribes, serving 56 states and territories and 274 tribes. FVPSA also awards discretionary grants to build and enhance capacity and improve responses to address domestic and dating violence.
“StrongHearts will provide immediate support and life-saving tools to enable survivors to find safety and live lives free of abuse,” says Katie Ray Jones, The Hotline Chief Executive Officer. Since its inception in 1996, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has provided domestic and dating violence help to over 4 million people.