High Hopes for National Native Domestic Violence Hotline

Each tribe has their own language, culture, and government,” said Leanne Guy, Executive Director of the Southwest Indigenous Women’s Coalition. “Native women need a Native hotline because their lives and
pathways to safety are rooted in their tribal nations.”

The National Native Domestic Violence Hotline (NNDVH), scheduled to begin taking calls in January 2017, will offer crisis intervention, safety planning assessments, and referrals to local resources tailored to Native women.

For nearly 20 years, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) has been a vital link to safety for many affected by domestic violence. Its advocates respond to calls 24/7, 365 days a year. Over many years, NDVH has continued to grow and expand contact services to include online chat and texting. However, culturally appropriate services to American Indian and Alaska Native women and issues involving criminal jurisdiction on tribal lands present unique challenges.

“Native women seeking safety from abuse need the services of a national hotline that is designed and staffed with Native advocates to serve Native women within their tribal nations,” said Dorma Sahneyah,
NIWRC Director of Training and Technical Assistance. “Not having a national Native hotline to provide culturally appropriate services Native women need and deserve is a gap that impacts the safety of Native women.”

“When you are in crisis, it is important to have the person on the other end of the phone understand the tribal justice system handling her criminal or civil case and cultural practices, beliefs, and language,”
said Guy. “Each tribe has a specific response system and knowledge of this system is essential in order to assist a caller.”

NIWRC staff Lucy Simpson, Executive Director; Tang Cheam, Director of Technology; and Dorma Sahneyah are working with the NDVH to develop a planning process, establish timelines, develop infrastructure, build a tribal resource database, hire and train staff, and provide tribal community outreach.

In October 2014, the National Congress of American Indians passed during its Atlanta conference Resolution #ATL-14-028, which supports the creation of a NNDVH to be developed and run by Native
advocates. “An integral part of insuring sustainable future funding for the Native Hotline is support for reauthorization of the Family Violence and Prevention Services Act (FVPSA),” said Sahneyah. “Permanent
funding for the NNDVH is a proposed amendment to FVPSA.”