October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to discuss why it is essential to understand what domestic violence looks like, where to go if you are experiencing domestic violence, and why it is imperative that we support domestic violence services. Anyone can experience domestic violence in their life and every case is different. YWCA Utah works with the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition and other nonprofits to spread awareness in Utah through educational presentations, discussions, and events like the flag planting at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City. Staff and volunteers have also spoken virtually and in person at 28 different schools, businesses, and colleges. Education include steps to take if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, characteristics and behaviors of an abusive partner, what services Utah has for victims of domestic violence, and information about the history of domestic violence in Utah.
Soon it will be Native American Heritage Day (Friday, November 26, 2021), and it is vital to remember how domestic violence affects Native American reservations and the lack of services offered to Indigenous peoples. According to the National Institute of Justice, more than 75% of Indigenous peoples in North America will experience domestic violence in their lifetime (National Institute of Justice). Many federally-funded domestic violence services acknowledge Indigenous peoples but are not as accessible to individuals living on reservations. The main issue is the accessibility that Native Americas have to services, and how some of these services support a Western domestic violence archetype, replicate adverse stereotypes, and ignore systemic issues (Violence Against Women).
Cultural heritage and traditions are ingrained in medical practices for many Indigenous nations and not being aware of these practices can negatively affect victims, too. Targeted prevention strategies to protect Indigenous peoples are found in federal plans, but are often fragmented and culturally inappropriate. With negligible government commitment and absence of cultural understanding concerning domestic violence in Indigenous communities, it is important that our community as a whole learn more about this issue. How can we provide domestic violence services to diverse communities that incorporates an understanding of their traditions and cultural heritage? How does domestic violence look different to Native American communities and what services may be needed most? By exploring more and answering these questions, we are able to further our domestic violence awareness, knowledge, and develop a deeper understanding that could lead to changes in our domestic violence services across the United States. To explore this issue further, visit our resources, below.
VIOLENCE AGAINST AMERICAN INDIAN AND ALASKA NATIVE WOMEN AND MEN
A study conducted by the National Institute of Justice shows the majority of American Indian and Alaska Native victims have experienced violence at the hands of at least one interracial (non-American Indian or Alaska Native) perpetrator in their lifetime—97 percent of female victims and 90 percent of male victims. American Indian and Alaska Native female victims were almost 2 times as likely to need services as non-Hispanic, White-only female victims and 1.9 times as likely to have missed days of work or school.
Denae Shanidiin of Restoring Ancestral Winds discusses domestic violence, particularly as it affects Indigenous women here in Utah, one of the top 10 states for missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) in the United States. Restoring Ancestral Winds is an organization advocating for healthy family relationships and to end domestic, dating, and family violence for Indigenous peoples.
How can we do more in the community to represent Indigenous peoples in domestic violence awareness? Building your knowledge of what to do and how to interact with victims of domestic violence is important. The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition is hosting a virtual CORE Advocacy Training in December. This Core Advocacy Training (CAT) is a free 40-hour training that details the skills and knowledge needed to support and empower survivors of domestic violence, sexual abuse, stalking, and human trafficking. The more you know about domestic violence awareness, the more you can share information and support those in need of resources and services.