In May 2020, StrongHearts Native Helpline introduced online chat advocacy. The service was precipitated by an urgent need that StrongHearts noted as victim-survivors of domestic, dating and sexual violence were having to shelter-in-place with their abusive partners during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chat advocacy users connect with a highly-trained advocate in a free, anonymous and confidential one-on-one chat session. There is no need to download an app or any software to use it. Users simply click the Chat Now icon on the StrongHearts website. Chat advocacy also increased accessibility for individuals who may be hearing impaired or those who may be uncomfortable or unable to vocalize a call for support. In 2021, the service became available 24/7.
Based on chats documented during the first 12 months of chat advocacy from May 18, 2020 to May 16, 2021, StrongHearts Native Helpline answered a total of 942 chats from across the United States. Chat users are primarily working age Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) victim-survivors seeking help during the day when they may be away from their abusive partner and have more access to a computer or smartphone. Eighty-one percent of chat users found StrongHearts through a search engine, such as Google or social
Additional report findings:
Who is using chat advocacy?
- 62% are IPV victim-survivors
- 26% are sexual violence victim-survivors
- 12% are non-IPV victim-survivors
What are chat users’ ages?
- 41% are aged 34-51
- 37% are aged 22-33
- 18% are aged 13-21
- 4% are ages 52+
What do Native victim-survivor chat users need?
- 70% peer support
- 30% shelter
- 28% legal advocacy
“I so appreciated this chat feature,” noted one chat user. “It looks like I’m texting a friend so I feel safe to do it.”
“This report reflects only data that was self-disclosed by chat users and does not necessarily represent every contact to StrongHearts Native Helpline,” said StrongHearts Director Lori Jump (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians). “However, our report strongly indicates that chat advocacy is a much-needed service for our Native American and Alaska Native relatives.”