American Indian and Alaska Native women suffer some of the highest rates of violence and murder in the United States, a crisis that has diminished the honored status of women and safety in tribal communities. In spite of the high rates of violence experienced by AI/AN persons, only a small percentage reached out for assistance to The Hotline at the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
In 2012, The Hotline began discussing this issue with staff from the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) a Native-led nonprofit organization dedicated to ending violence against Native women and children. Together, they developed a program concept for a Native hotline developed by and run by Native advocates to support tribal communities across the United States. With input from tribal leaders, a Native women’s council, domestic violence experts, and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, the two organizations began laying the groundwork to develop a Native-centered hotline staffed by advocates with a strong understanding of Native cultures, as well as issues of tribal sovereignty and law.
Their vision became a reality with the creation of the StrongHearts Native Helpline (StrongHearts) in March 2017, made possible by support from the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Family and Youth Services Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Verizon. StrongHearts is a culturally-appropriate, anonymous, confidential service dedicated to serving Native American survivors of domestic violence and concerned family members and friends. By dialing 1-844-7NATIVE (1-844-762-8483), nationwide 24/7, callers can connect at no cost one-on-one with knowledgeable StrongHearts advocates who can provide lifesaving tools and immediate support to enable survivors to find safety and live lives free of abuse.
StrongHearts is a partnered effort, combining the technology and infrastructure of The Hotline with NIWRC’s expertise and community connections, as well as the trust of Native advocacy groups. StrongHearts staff serve on the NIWRC team.