October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It is a time to shine a light on the abuse that impacts too many of our families and to let those who are suffering in silence know that help is available when they are ready.
Thanks to research completed by the National Institute of Justice in 2016, we know that 55.5% of Indigenous women will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives, and 56.1% will be sexually assaulted. While these statistics are grim, the everyday impact can be hard to understand if we don’t experience it ourselves. This month, we honor the memory of those we have lost and celebrate the victories of those strong survivors who have broken free from their abusers.
Citizen Joyce Noble came to the Domestic Violence Program in November 2015. Even through the chaos of an abusive partner, she maintained a sunny disposition, a kind heart, a sense of humor, and the resilience to get out of the situation when she knew the time was right. She has this to say about her time working with the program:
“Looking back on the person I was when I first contacted the Domestic Violence Program is not easy. However, I am doing so for anyone who may need the same kind of help, so others can know there is hope even when they don't believe it, and there is most definitely help, even though it may be difficult to ask.
“There are no adequate words to describe the value of what I gained through participating in the tribe’s Domestic Violence Program. The practical assistance that freed me from depending on an abusive partner for basic human needs and the emotional support that led me to see my own worth quite simply saved my life. Four years ago, I was so broken and so afraid. I dreaded waking up each morning.
I was wholly convinced that I didn't deserve anything better. Casey helped me to see things from a new perspective, a vantage point that allowed me to see how much I have to offer and how much I deserve.
“This month I am celebrating a year of freedom from my abuser, enjoying a quite happy home with my daughter, and looking forward to obtaining my bachelor's degree in psychology/counseling next year. The guidance, support, and compassion I received from this program empowered me not only to end the bad things in my life but to make the good even better! I am forever grateful for this program!”
Joyce is also a skilled writer. Here you can read some of the poetry she has written about her experiences with her abusive ex.
If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, help is available. Contact Casey Kasper at (269) 462-4324 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Services are confidential and free of charge.
You aren’t alone.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone at any time. However Native American women experience some of the highest rates of violence:
- More than 56% of Native American women will experience physical violence from an intimate partner (a spouse or significant other) at some point in their lives.
- 56% will experience sexual violence, according to the National Institute of Justice.
- 78% of Native American/Alaska Native women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, or two spirit experience some form of physical assault.
- 85% of Native women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, or two spirit report sexual violence, according to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.
- 5,712 American Indian/Alaska Native girls and women were reported missing to the National Crime Information Center in 2018.