It’s time for some sobering stats: The U.S. Department of Justice reports that Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to be assaulted than the rest of the American population. And one in three Native women has been assaulted at some point in her life.
Lake Andes, South Dakota-based Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center (NAWHERC) handles the fallout of this reality each day. Seeing women and girls struggle to return to themselves following assault prompted the program team—run by nonprofit Native American Community Board—to create “What to Do When You’re Raped: An ABC Handbook for Native Girls.” From defining rape to proving info on emergency contraception rights to an extensive resource list, the free illustrated guide helps girls navigate the emotional, physical and legal jungle that lies on the other side of sexual violation.
NAWHERC CEO Charon Asetoyer spoke to Indian Country Today about the jurisdictional issues that often prevent Native Americans from getting justice in these cases, and how her organization aims to support survivors:
Due to complicated issues related to jurisdiction, most often there is not an arrest made of the perpetrator. Therefore, Native American women are denied protection and due process of the law. On federal lands it is the responsibility of the federal government to handle these crimes. We can no longer wait for the government to decide if and when they are going to live up to their responsibility. As a community response, one of the things we can do is assist our relatives who have been harmed and to help them with the healing process. It is important for a person that has been sexually assaulted to know that they are not alone and that there is always somewhere to turn to for help. The sooner you tell someone what has happened to you the sooner you will begin to realize that you are not alone and that you have support in dealing with the assault.