StrongHearts Native Helpline Answers the Call from Native Americans Facing Domestic Violence and Dating Violence

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National helpline illustrates the unmet need for culturally-appropriate victim resources for Indian country

 In March 2019, the StrongHearts Native Helpline held an open house to mark the helpline’s second anniversary and new office headquarters in collaboration with the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) and the National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) in Eagan, Minnesota. (From left to right: Tara Azure, NIWRC Training and Resource Specialist; Katie Ray-Jones, Chief Executive Office of the Hotline; Lori Jump, StrongHearts Assistant Director; Lucy Simpson, NIWRC Executive Director; Shawndell Dawson, Director of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, ACF/HHS; and Gwendolyn Packard, NIWRC Training & Technical Assistance Specialist.)

With more than 4,600 calls now received, the StrongHearts Native Helpline (1-844-7NATIVE), is fulfilling its purpose as the first culturally-appropriate, domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans nationwide.

As a project of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the StrongHearts Native Helpline officially launched its service in March 2017. The helpline is the work of Native advocates who partnered to create a culturally-based, confidential resource to serve Native victims of abuse on a nationwide scale. 

“One of the first questions that many of our callers ask is whether our advocates are Native, and when they hear that the answer is yes, it opens the floodgates,” said Lori Jump (Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa), Assistant Director of the StrongHearts Native Helpline. “We hear how thankful they are not to have to explain who they are and how being Native impacts their victimization and survivorship.”

With a strong understanding of Native cultures, sovereignty and law, advocates are available daily from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. PST. Callers reaching out after hours can access the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) by selecting option 1. 

Since October 1, 2018, StrongHearts call volume increased by 414% compared to the same time in the previous year, demonstrating an unmet need for culturally-responsive services for Native victims and survivors of abuse.

“In our outreach to Tribal communities and at national trainings and community events, we heard loud and clear from so many of our relatives how desperately their communities need a shelter or domestic violence program,” said Mallory Black (Diné), StrongHearts Communications Manager. “Many people tell us how they wish StrongHearts was around when they needed it and how grateful they are that a helpline now exists to provide a safe, supportive space for our Native people.”

Funded by the Family and Youth Services Bureau, which administers the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) in the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, StrongHearts supports the safety and healing of Native people by upholding the sovereignty of Native nations in addressing violence in their communities, where resources are often scarce.

“Our work at StrongHearts has revealed what we have always known but struggled to prove – there is a serious resource disparity in Indian country,” Jump said. “There are huge swaths of land where no resources exist for our people. In many cases, our advocates are left to refer our callers to non-Native programs, and while we are thankful for those programs, they do not always understand the specific barriers our people face. StrongHearts is a critical link supporting the safety and healing of our people and sovereignty of our communities.”

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, call the StrongHearts Native Helpline at 1-844-7NATIVE, or 762-8483), available daily from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. PST. All calls are safe, anonymous and confidential. Callers after hours may connect with the National Domestic Violence Hotline by selecting option 1. 


*Based on data gathered from calls to the StrongHearts Native Helpline reported March 6, 2017 through April 30, 2019, unless otherwise specified.