Sexual Assault in Indian Country
Sexual assault in Indian Country has long been a quiet issue despite the growing epidemic. It is estimated that a sexual assault occurs every 127 seconds in the United States. (National Crime Victimization Survey, 2007) American Indian and Alaska Native women are 2.5 times more likely than non-Native women to become victims of sexual assault. (Maze of Injustice, 2007) It’s also estimated that 34.1% of Native women have been raped in their lifetime, that’s more than 1 in 3 Native women. This is significantly higher compared to 17.6% of all women (all races) who have been raped in their lifetime. (National Violence Against Women Survey, 2006) Sexual assault is also one of the most under reported crimes, with 60% still being left unreported (National Crime Victimization Survey, 2005) and 15 of 16 rapists never spend a day in jail. (Crime and Punishment in America, 1999)
IHS Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative (DVPI) Background
Public Law 111-8, the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, provided $7,500,000 for the Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative (DVPI). For FY 2010, Congress provided an additional $2,500,000 for a total of $10,000,000 in the program. The purpose of the initiative is to support a national effort by the IHS to address domestic violence and sexual assault (DV/SA) within American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. The IHS Director decided to fund a one-time, non-recurring demonstration projects intended to expand community-level access to effective Tribal domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programming.
Response Circles Sexual Assault Prevention Project
The Response Circles Sexual Assault Prevention Project, a program of the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board was awarded Indian Health Service (IHS) Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative (DVPI) funding in 2010. The project was underway six months after its award and thus has been implemented for a total of twenty-three months. The main objectives at the beginning of this project included:
- Recruit and obtain tribal approval of four (4) NPAIHB member tribes to participate in the development of “Response Circles”. Each tribe will receive funding towards sexual assault prevention and awareness efforts.
- Establish a baseline of reported sexual assault for the participating tribal communities
- Focus on community prevention and awareness efforts
- Develop a plan to continue program after three year funding cycle
In 2011, the Response Circles Sexual Assault Prevention Project, in partnership with the Oregon Sexual Assault Task Force, collaborated to develop the Northwest Collaboration Against Sexual Assault in Tribal Communities Project to assist the forty-three Northwest Tribal communities in establishing a coordinated, multi-disciplinary and victim-centered response to sexual assault. These efforts provide training and technical assistance to develop a community-based Sexual Assault Response & Resource Circle (SARRC). The SARRC’s purpose is to work towards a collaborative response that prioritizes the victim’s needs. Included in this grant is specialized training for healthcare providers serving tribal communities to become certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). In May 2012, three tribes attended the first Sexual Assault Response & Resource Circle (SARRC) training. Four to six SARRC member from each tribe participated in the training. In September 2012, the project held the first Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training. This training was attended by twenty-one nurses that either work in tribal clinics or in hospitals that serve tribal victims. There will be a total of three annual SARRC and SANE trainings. These efforts are funded by the National Institute of Justice.