Indigenous advocates call for more education on domestic and sexual violence

Tribal leaders need to push for more education within their communities about domestic violence and sexual assault, from consistent training for police to classes on healthy relationships for young people. 

That’s one of the main recommendations to emerge from this week’s annual summit organized by the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women. 

“Always remember the solutions to violence exist within our tribal communities,” Tiffany Jiron (Isleta Pueblo), the coalition’s executive director, said to a room of about 70 people to kick off the event on Wednesday and Thursday at Isleta Resort and Casino. The summit brought together tribal leaders and advocates to discuss challenges but also “celebrate our collective progress” in addressing “one of the most pressing issues facing our communities,” Jiron said. About 84% of American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime, according to a report published by the Department of Justice in 2016. (While about a third reported experiencing violence at the hands of another Indigenous person, 97% had been harmed by a non-Indigenous person.)

Shannon Hoshnic (Navajo) works at Sexual Assault Services of Northwest New Mexico, which provides exams used to collect evidence and therapy, among other services. Some patrol officers she encounters don’t know what resources are available to offer victims or how to interview them, Hoshnic said during a panel discussion Thursday.

Domestic Violence court offers alternatives, hope for future

Jaime was just 19 years old when a fight with his girlfriend escalated from what he describes as “a lot of back and forth petty stuff” to a conflict that saw him facing misdemeanor domestic violence charges. Around the same time, he’d survived an attempted homicide and was coping with the news that his daughter was on her way. Rather than pursue a conviction, Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court offered him a pre-prosecution alternative: the Domestic Violence Early Intervention Program. As part of that program, he participated in group and individual counseling sessions and parenting classes for six months. It’s the same amount of time his daughter has been alive.