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NIWRC Honors April 2019 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month


The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, recognizes and honors April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). This year’s theme for SAAM focuses on consent, and the slogan is “I Ask.” I Ask encourages  everyone, no matter the scenario, to respectfully ask for consent, listen, and respect the response.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month promotes awareness and prevention with the goal of creating safer communities. Since consent is a clear, concrete example of what it takes to end sexual harassment, abuse, and assault, it only made sense that this year’s theme center on empowering all of us to put consent into practice.

Each year during the month of April, state, territory, tribal and community-based organizations, rape crisis centers, government agencies, businesses, campuses and individuals plan events and activities to highlight sexual violence as a public health, human rights and social justice issue and reinforce the need for prevention efforts. See below for SAAM resources by the NIWRC and partnering organizations.

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual Assault is sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Sexual violence is often also a form of domestic violence; coerced or forced sex is rape, even if it is with a significant other. Some forms of sexual assault include:

  • Attempted rape
  • Fondling or unwanted sexual touching
  • Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body
  • Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape

In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the NIWRC will be posting updated 30 Days of SAAM postcards with facts about sexual violence in Native communities, and our movement to end it, each day this April and releasing 2-4 WAS Talks videos each week during the month April on NIWRC’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages! WAS Talks was recorded during the 2018 Women Are Sacred (WAS) conference and is a project inspired by the national TED Talks. Our stories hold power in shining light on the issues of violence in our communities. It’s time to talk. We share these with the aim of raising awareness on this severe crisis, encouraging others to join the movement against sexual violence, and raising our voices in the name of tribal sovereignty once again to bring safety to Native nations. Please share these postcards with your views on how sexual violence impacts your community, and take a stand using the #ViolenceIsNotMyTradition!

Child Abuse Prevention Month 2019—“STRONG AND THRIVING FAMILIES”

April was first declared Child Abuse Prevention Month in 1983. Since then, April has been a time to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse.   This year’s theme is “Strong and Thriving Families.”

This past November we celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the Indian Child Welfare Act.  In November 1978, Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act to address policies and practices that resulted in the “wholesale separation of Indian children from their families.”  Congress recognized that “there is no resource that is more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian tribes than their children.”  NIWRC proudly recognizes and commemorates the anniversary of this landmark legislation.

In 1819, the US government established the Civilization Fund, the first federal policy to directly affect Indian children.  It provided funding to private agencies, primarily churches, to establish programs to “civilize the Indian.”  In a report to Congress in 1867, the commissioner of Indian services declared that the only successful way to deal with the “Indian problem” was to separate Indian children completely from their tribes. Militaristic or mission boarding schools were developed out of this policy, resulting in wide-scale removal of Indian children from their families and their communities.  The impact of these policies on American Indian/Alaska Native children, families and tribal nations, across generations, has been atrocious and devastating.

The Indian Child Welfare Act made sweeping changes in the way Indian child welfare cases are handled, but we still have a long way to go.  Despite progress made possible by the Indian Child Welfare Act American Indian and Alaska Native children are still 4 times more likely to be removed from their families by State child welfare systems than non-Native children.  Proportionately, there are more American Indian/Alaska Native children in state custody today than there were prior to the passage of ICWA. 

The urgent need for the protections established in 1978 has not diminished, and greater efforts by the Federal Government are still needed to ensure compliance with the Act.  In addition, over the years there have been numerous challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act.

In commemorating Child Abuse Prevention Month and honoring the intent and spirit of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), NIWRC calls on everyone to:

  • Flex and exercise our sovereignty and self-determination as a people;
  • Reaffirm and strengthen the government to government relationship between the US and tribal nations;
  • Recognize and uphold Congress’ intent to protect American Indian and Alaska Native children and their families;
  • Learn more about domestic violence and it’s impact on children;
  • Promote the safety, stability and well-being of Indian tribes and families in all the work we do; and most importantly to
  • LOVE, HONOR, CHERISH and SUPPORT OUR CHILDREN for they truly are our FUTURE!

Resources for April Sexual Assault Awareness Month:

  • SHARE: 30 Days of SAAM postcards on social media. Embrace Your Voice! Violence is not traditional, break the silence & post why you stand against sexual assault with #ViolenceIsNotMyTraditio
  • READ: History of Sexual Assault Awareness Month:
  • SUPPORT: The StrongHearts Native Helpline – Help us get the word out to our relatives in need 1-844-7NATIVE (762-8483) – 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.
  • DOWNLOAD: “What To Do When You’re RAPED: An ABC Handbook for Native Girls,” Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center 
  • DOWNLOAD: “Tribal Legal Code Resource: Sexual Assault and Stalking Law.” A Guide for Drafting or Revising Victim-Centered Tribal Law and Policy Institute, April 2017.
  • EXPLORE: NIWRC’s Online Resource Library for past webinars, reports, etc at

Resources for April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month:

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.