What Is NativeLove?
Native Love is defined by our traditional ways of caring for each other and values as Native peoples of respect, honor, kindness, family and compassion. Our NativeLove project encourages youth to rethink what Native Love means to them, and empower them to define healthy relationships for themselves This is with the aim of promoting non-violent, respectful, safe relationships among Native youth, their families, communities, cultures, & Nations
What we know:
Dating/ Relationship Violence occurs when one intimate or romantic partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through words and actions that are physically and emotionally abusive. Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner.
Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner. One in five tweens knows a victim of dating violence.
Although there aren’t many current studies that identify the rate of dating violence in Native communities, we do know that Native women in the United States experience some of the highest rates of sexual assault in the country. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, nearly half of all Native American women have been raped, beaten, or stalked by an intimate partner; one in three will be raped in their lifetime; and on some reservations, women are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than the national average. More than 40% of Native children experience two or more acts of violence by the age of 18, and 25% of Native children that are exposed to violence have PTSD at a higher rate than that found in US soldiers returning home from Afghanistan. This is an epidemic that has to end.
Because youth form the heart of our cultural survival as Native peoples, we at NIWRC believe that our Native youth have power to help create positive change in their communities to end this epidemic for their future.
Our NativeLove project offers Native youth a space to use their own voice to talk about healthy relationships and what NativeLove means to them. We are launching this project at the Chemawa Indian School, Salem, Oregon, during February, which is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month.
We want to hear from you! Tell us what Native Love means to you. Start talking about healthy relationships, ending bullying and living a healthy lifestyle in your community. Get the conversation going on social media, and post with the hashtag #NativeLoveIs. Be sure to follow the Native Love project on Facebook too!
What does Native Love mean to you?
If you are experiencing dating or relationship violence in any form…
Make a Safety Plan!
Even if you feel like you cannot leave the situation right now for whatever reason, there may come a time in the future when you need or want to leave. A safety plan can help you figure out how to leave and stay safe, as well as how to be as safe as possible if you stay. There are many different ways to make a safety plan, so here are some things to keep in mind:
If you have children or younger siblings, think about their safety and how to get away if needed. Even if you don’t plan on leaving, think about where you could go if you needed a temporary place to be safe – a local shelter, an aunt’s, cousin’s or friend’s house.
Knowledge is Power!
Get to know the different resources in your area. If you don’t feel comfortable going to the local advocacy program or shelter, keep in mind that many have websites or hotlines you can call or text if you have questions or are in crisis.
|But keep in mind that sometimes abusers may try to monitor your Internet, texting and email activity without your knowledge. In some circumstances, it may be safer for you to communicate with advocates via phones or to research websites or hotlines using a computer in a public place such as a library.|
You are not alone!
Dating violence is more common than you think. Although every situation involves unique circumstances, there are people who understand what you are going through and are willing to help.
You don’t have to do this alone. Tell someone you trust—like an elder, auntie/uncle or close friend—about what’s going on and think about what they can do to support you. Don’t be afraid to ask for the support you need. If they don’t believe you or give you the kind of support you need, don’t assume that this means no one will believe you or help you.
Talk with an advocate and make a plan to stay as safe as possible. Remember that you can always get CONFIDENTIAL support from a local domestic violence advocate, who can help you understand that it is NOT your fault. No matter what you do, no one has the right to physically hurt you, make you afraid or try to control you.
For Family and Friends of People Experiencing Dating Violence…
Knowing that someone you care about is being hurt is hard. Actively listen to their needs and ask them what you can do to help. Respect their answer even if it’s not what you want to hear. Because of the violence they have suffered, it may be hard for them to trust people. So try not to push them to your desired outcome. If you do, you may end up just pushing them away and they may not talk to you about it in the future— which will only isolate them further.
If you’ve agreed to help or support someone, be clear about what you can do. Don’t promise support if you are not certain that you can follow through. Take action in a manner that maintains safety for you and your family/friends.
For someone on the outside, it can be hard to understand why your friend or family member stays in the relationship. The reasons why a person may stay with an abusive and/or violent partner are very complex. Remember that dating and domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior designed to exert power and control over a person through intimidation, threats, and harmful or harassing behavior. Fear of increased violence is a big reason why many people stay in violent relationships. Don’t judge your friend or family member if they choose to stay. Be supportive.
If you are concerned for someone’s safety, including your own, tell someone you trust who will take it seriously and listen. But only share information that you have permission to share and that is based on facts. Rumors make a bad situation even worse. And remember, a local domestic violence advocacy program can provide CONFIDENTIAL support.
Knowledge is Power!
Even if you think you don’t need them for yourself, get to know the domestic violence resources in your area. Many have websites or hotlines you can call or text if you have questions or are in crisis. Share this information with anyone in need, help them make a call, or just offer support when they visit a shelter or other service.
Breaking the Silence! Empowering Youth to Make Change!
Even though dating and domestic violence has become more common in today’s society, it is NOT traditional and is not in keeping with our Native cultural teachings. In order to end this violence, we must return to our traditional values of respect and community accountability. Being “accountable” or responsible for our actions happens in many ways—it starts with naming violence as violence and not turning our backs when we see it in our community.
Key questions to ask about responsibility and accountability in the community:
While it may seem like a big task — being part of the solution is easier than you think! Native American youth across the United States are taking action and you can too! Here are some questions to ask yourself and your community to start healthy conversations about domestic violence.
If you could decide how people would respond to violence in your community, what would that look like?
Does your community talk about violence? If so, who talks about it? For those that don’t, why do you think that is?
How does your community talk about violence? What terms do they use? For example, do they talk about “domestic violence” or “family violence” or “Indian loving”? How do you feel about these words?
Does your local government talk about violence? (This could include tribal or band councils, committees, as well as traditional forms of governance such as council fires, clans or societies.) Why or why not?
What are the traditional roles of men and women in your Native culture? What are the values are at the foundation of your Native community? How does domestic violence fit within that or not?
What does Native Love mean to you? What should it mean?
To offer support to youth and youth advocates, NIWRC will showcase various toolkits and resources on a broad spectrum of wellness with the NativeLove Resources and Tools listed below:
National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center
515 Lame Deer Ave.
PO Box 99
Lame Deer, MT 59043
Special thanks to Verizon Hopeline for funding the NativeLove Youth project and for their ongoing support in promoting healthy relationships for Native youth.