Improving the Health Care Response to Abuse in Native Communities

Jan 31, 2007

More health care providers are now working to address the needs of patients who are victims of abuse in American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities as the Domestic Violence Project expands. The Project is funded by the Indian Health Service-Administration for Children and Families and run by the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF).

Sites are developing culturally appropriate prevention strategies and resources for health care providers and victims, and working to increase awareness of domestic violence as a public health issue and promote public education and outreach within Native communities. They serve as models to other AI/AN clinics and hospitals across the country by sharing materials, resources and protocols and providing training or technical support.

The Project also works to raise the visibility of domestic violence reform at each site, and conducts outreach and training on domestic violence to other health care facilities to promote institutional reform and program development.

“This partnership has demonstrated that community health care providers serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities can do a tremendous amount to help victims of violence who visit clinics for routine or emergency care,” said FVPF President Esta Soler. “We are thrilled to expand this promising project to include six new sites, which gives us the chance to reach even more victims of domestic violence with culturally appropriate resources.”

The new sites are: the Sells Service Unit that includes Sells Indian Hospital in Sells, AZ, the San Xavier PHS Health Center in Tucson, AZ, and Tucson Indian Center in Tucson AZ; Phoenix Indian Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ; and the Standing Rock Service Unit that includes the McLaughlin PHS Indian Health Center in McLaughlin, SD, and the Standing Rock Indian Hospital in Fort Yates, ND.

Poster Available

The FVPF and Mending the Sacred Hoop Technical Assistance Project have created culturally appropriate posters raising awareness about the impact of domestic violence on children and families. The posters are available free at (scroll down to the bottom of the page to view them).

One shows a teenage boy and carries the headline: “Eat your vegetables. Don’t play with matches. Finish your homework. Respect women.” Then it says, “Harmony relies on our ability to respect, honor and nurture all our relatives. We must teach the boys in our life early and often that this is what it means to be a warrior and that violence never equals strength…”

The U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in December that, while nonfatal intimate partner violence dropped significantly from 1993 to 2004, it remained highest for American Indian and Alaskan Native females during that period.

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