Published October 11, 2019

Native helpline for domestic violence and dating violence sets sights on expansion to 24-7 operating hours, integration of digital chat service and inclusion of sexual assault advocacy

EAGAN, Minn. – Within three years of launching its collaborative project, the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) today announced the StrongHearts Native Helpline (StrongHearts) is receiving two grants from the Office of Victims of Crime under the United States Department of Justice for a combined total of $2,768,168.00 to enhance services over the next three years.

The awards – provided by the Office of Victims of Crime Advancing the Use of Technology to Assist Victims of Crime solicitation and the Field-Generated Program to Improve Services for Victims of Crime – will be utilized to extend the helpline’s operating hours to 24 hours a day, develop advocacy training and services to assist survivors of sexual violence, as well as implement digital chat services to help increase accessibility and address caller safety. Launch dates for the digital chat service and 24-7 operating hours will be released at a later time. A full list of federal grant recipients can be accessed here.

“Considering Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or be a victim of sexual assault than other groups, the StrongHearts Native Helpline serves as a potential lifeline for survivors of these crimes,” said Lori Jump, Assistant Director for StrongHearts. “We also know in remote areas, some victims may not have phone service or may fear their abusive partner overhearing them in an attempt to call, so providing a digital chat service option is crucial for increasing access for everyone in our communities.” American Indians and Alaska Natives suffer from the highest rates of violence in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Justice. In March 2017, the StrongHearts Native Helpline (1-844-7NATIVE) began providing callers culturally-based support for domestic violence and dating violence, along with a connection to Native resources. Grounded in an understanding of Native cultures, tribal sovereignty and traditions, Native advocates are specially trained to provide callers with emotional support, crisis intervention, personalized safety planning, and a referral to a Native and Tribal service provider if needed. Currently, the helpline is available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central time.

“Since the very beginning, StrongHearts staff listened to the critical needs of Native communities across the country and identified the need for 24-7 operations” said Lucy Simpson, Executive Director of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center. “Now with these two awards, we can realize the collective vision of having a dedicated Native helpline to serve survivors of violence in a culturally-rooted way at all hours of the day and night.”

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