Communications Officer, NIWRC
As we, the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, honor 30 years of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) during the month of October, we are thankful for every one of our relatives and allies that make up this national movement to end violence against women and children. In October 1987, advocates recognized the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the first national toll-free hotline for domestic violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, began taking calls. Two years later, Congress passed the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month Commemorative legislation, which has recognized DVAM every year since then. As we reflect on the work taking place to increase safety and access to justice in our American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities, we also celebrate the footsteps of our relatives who came before us.
This month, we remember the Grandmother of our Movement Tillie Black Bear, a member of the Sicangu Lakota Nation/Rosebud Sioux Tribe who dedicated her life to the safety of Native women and sovereignty for Indian nations. Tillie was a founding mother of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society—the first shelter for Native women in the United States, the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and our own National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC). Her leadership to indigenize federal legislation spanned four decades and included work on the Violence Against Women Act and the Family Violence Protection & Services Act and much more. Tillie, a true Strong Heart, demonstrated incredible bravery, courage and strength in leading the movement to end violence in tribal communities before her passing on July 19th, 2014. Her spirit lives on in our work, and we are forever thankful for her love, guidance, leadership, vision, and friendship.
This year, we at the NIWRC, in collaboration with the National Domestic Violence Hotline, were honored to launch operations of the StrongHearts Native Helpline (1-844-7NATIVE), the first national culturally appropriate helpline for Native Americans experiencing domestic violence and dating violence. Grounded in indigenous advocacy and thought, StrongHearts has taken calls from Native women and men in our tribal communities and Alaska Native villages, and expanded its outreach in partnership with Tribal domestic violence/sexual assault coalitions, Tribal colleges and Native organizations, and Tribal advocates serving our communities across the country. With generous support from all directions, we have propelled StrongHearts forward, marking a historic moment for survivors of domestic violence and dating violence across Indian Country, in Alaska Native villages, and in Native communities nationwide
We are continuously inspired by the efforts in our Tribal communities and by Tribal governments to increase safety and protections for our Native people and are honored by the support we can provide through NIWRC by way of technical assistance, training and policy development. Through our work, our goal has been and will continue to be supporting the sovereign rights of our Tribal Nations to increase safety for their citizens and preventing future acts of violence against the most vulnerable among us—Native women and children.
We humbly ask all advocates, allies, media and community members to join us as we mark October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month by wearing purple and/or wearing a purple ribbon on October 19, 2017, to bring awareness to the issue and to those who suffer from abuse by their partners. Across the country, families and friends of victims have adopted the purple ribbon to remember and honor their loved ones who have survived domestic violence, who are still suffering at the hands of their perpetrators, and those that have lost their lives. By wearing purple, we help lift the silence that has fallen on our Tribal communities and stand in support of the protection and safety of Native American survivors of intimate partner abuse everywhere. Please visit our 2017 DVAM Resource Page for more information and tools to help you plan DVAM activities in your community.
There is much work to be done to restore safety and sovereignty to our Tribal Nations, and we are honored to be joined with you in this collective movement.
Executive Director, NIWRC
About the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center
The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Inc. (NIWRC) is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to restoring the sovereignty of Native nations and safeguarding Native women and their children. The NIWRC supports culturally grounded, grassroots advocacy and provides national leadership to ending gender-based violence in indigenous communities through the development of educational materials and programs, direct technical assistance and the development of local and national policy that builds the capacity of Indigenous communities and strengthens the exercise of tribal sovereignty. www.niwrc.org
About the StrongHearts Native Helpline
Created by and built to serve tribal communities across the United States, the StrongHearts Native Helpline (StrongHearts), 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 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 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.