StrongHearts Native Helpline Launches as a Critical Resource for Domestic Violence and Dating Violence in Tribal Communities

For the first time in history, a culturally-relevant, safe and confidential resource is available for Native American survivors of domestic violence and dating violence, who now make up more than 84 percent of the entire U.S. Native population. The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) and The Hotline have launched the first, national crisis line dedicated to serving tribal communities affected by violence across the U.S., called the StrongHearts Native Helpline.

Starting today, Native survivors in Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska – the helpline’s initial service areas — will be able to connect at no cost, one-on-one, with knowledgeable StrongHearts advocates who will provide support, assist with safety planning and connect them with resources based on their specific tribal affiliation, community location and culture. Callers outside of these states can still call StrongHearts while the helpline continues to develop its services network. All services available through the helpline are confidential and available by dialing 1-844-7NATIVE (1-844-762-8483) Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. CST. Callers after hours will have the option to connect with the National Domestic Violence Hotline or to call back the next business day.

“The reality is that so many of our American Indian and Alaska Native people experience domestic violence and dating violence every day,” said Lucy Rain Simpson, executive director of NIWRC and a citizen of Navajo Nation. “It has never been more evident that our Native people need a Native helpline to support efforts to restore power and safety in our tribal communities. The StrongHearts Native Helpline is ready to answer that call.”

The StrongHearts Native Helpline was created by and for Native Americans who, compared to all other races in the U.S., are twice as likely to experience rape or sexual assault, two and a half times more likely to experience violent crimes and five times more likely to be victims of homicide in their lifetimes. Even though a staggering four in five experience violence, Native Americans have historically lacked access to services.

“The Hotline has served victims and survivors of domestic violence for 20 years, and we recognize that Native American survivors have uniquely complex needs,” said Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of The Hotline. “Through StrongHearts, domestic violence advocates will be able to address those complex needs with an unparalleled level of specificity.”

Advocates at the StrongHearts Native Helpline are trained to navigate each caller’s abuse situation with a strong understanding of Native cultures, as well as issues of tribal sovereignty and law, in a safe and accepting environment, free of assumption and judgment. Callers will be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect by a well-trained professional.

“To enhance access to services and meet the unique needs of Native survivors, a dedicated Native helpline that provides support and connections to shelter, advocacy, and other services is critical,” states Marylouise Kelley, FVPSA Program Division Director.

Initially, StrongHearts will focus efforts on providing services to survivors who live in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma, which combined make up more than 12.5 percent of the country’s entire Native American population.

“The team will leverage the large number of Native-centered resources established within these states to begin providing services, with further outreach to tribal communities as StrongHearts continues to grow,” said Simpson.

The StrongHearts Native Helpline plans to purposefully and thoughtfully expand its services to Native American survivors nationwide – based on utilization, demand and resources available.

“Verizon is proud to be the first corporate sponsor of the StrongHearts Native Helpline, a resource that will provide a crucial space for Native people to find support,” said Stuart Conklin, program manager at the Verizon Foundation. “We look forward to its success and continuing to build on a lasting partnership.”


OVW Tribal Technical Assistance Providers and Tribal Coalition Service Directory

In May 2016, Mending the Sacred Hoop facilitated the OVW Tribal Technical Assistance Providers Roundtable in Duluth.  At this meeting, it was recommended the 2014 OVW Technical Assistance Provider Fact Sheet be revised as information has changed over the years.  The revised “OVW Tribal Technical Assistance Providers and Tribal Coalition Service Directory” is attached.

What’s new?  Thirty-eight (38) pages of important information including an updated cover, profiles of the national tribal domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions with contact information, a tribal coalition map, and specifics of training and technical assistance expertise available from the current OVW-funded national tribal domestic violence and sexual assault coalition tribal technical assistance providers and their contacts.

The most up to date directory can be accessed at First Nations Help Desk website at www.firstnations.org/helpdesk, or if you prefer a PDF version to download or print, click here: http://www.firstnations.org/sites/default/files/%2A/OVW_TA_Directory_2.pdf.

We would like to thank all who submitted updated narratives, photographs and other content to this latest edition.  We wish to thank Vicky Urbanez at Red Wind Consulting who researched information, pieced everything together, and added her valuable insights into this project.

Finally, a big thanks to the DOJ-OVW Tribal Unit for their financial support in the creation of a revised directory.

Thank you, Montoya Whiteman.


OVW Position on Non-Investigative Kits

From the End Violence Against Women International Newsletter:

On January 17, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women released a critical position paper, offering guidance on the storage of evidence in a non-investigative sexual assault case. The need for this guidance was described by Principal Deputy Director, Dr. Bea Hanson:

Communities across the country are embarking on efforts to process untested sexual assault kits (SAKs) and pursue justice in the cases to which those kits are tied … [Yet] as professionals inside and outside the justice system work together to take inventory of SAKs, test the evidence they contain, follow investigative leads in the associated cases, and reach out to victims, they need to attempt to balance public safety and victim safety every step of the way.

Testing Without Victim Consent

In particular, concern is raised when jurisdictions follow a “test all kits” approach that does not take into account the fact that some victims have evidence collected during a medical forensic exam without making a decision to participate in the criminal justice process. This means they have not yet consented to having that evidence tested.

If that evidence is tested without victim consent, Dr. Hanson cautioned that this can “create barriers to obtaining medical forensic care and reporting sexual assault, ultimately undermining the very goals those policies are intended to achieve.”

OVW Position Paper

This is why OVW published a position paper on non-investigative reports and evidence testing. In it, they clearly state their position that this evidence should not be tested:

Submitting non-investigative SAKs to a forensic laboratory for testing, absent consent from the victim, should not be standard operating procedure for a law enforcement agency.

Policies and procedures that run counter to that position cannot be supported with OVW grant funds.

The OVW paper also briefly describes a number of alternative reporting options and offers links to resources that can help communities shape their approaches to dealing with untested SAKs. We encourage you to download a copy of this important document: Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiatives and Non-Investigative Kits.

EVAWI Resources

We also want to remind you of the other resources EVAWI offers on this topic, which is often referred to as “forensic compliance” because it stems from certain provisions in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) relating to medical forensic examinations. For example, we offer two modules in our OnLine Training Institute (OLTI):

All OLTI training modules are available in our Resource Library. However, the online version in the actual OnLine Training Institute includes review exercises, practical applications, and test questions, after which participants can print a personalized certificate of completion.

Other documents and tools appear in a special section of our website dedicated to the topic of forensic compliance, as well as well as our online Resource Library. Several archived webinars also address issues related to VAWA forensic compliance and non-investigative reporting.

Focus on Victim Needs

We hope you find these resources helpful, as you work to increase victim access – without compromising privacy, safety, or self-determination.


2017 CTAS (Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation) Now Open

The Department of Justice today announced the opening of the grant solicitation period for comprehensive funding to American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments and tribal consortia to support public safety, victim services and crime prevention.  The department’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS) posts today at https://www.justice.gov/tribal/open-solicitations.

“The CTAS program is a cornerstone of the Justice Department’s partnership with sovereign tribal nations,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.  “By providing tribes and villages with critical funding for everything from law enforcement equipment to programs for native youth and victims of crime, the CTAS program gives tribes the resources they need to address the particular challenges they face.  I encourage tribes and villages to take advantage of this program, and I look forward to continuing our work with our tribal partners to build stronger and safer communities for all.”

The Department of Justice launched CTAS in FY 2010 in direct response to concerns raised by tribal leaders about the department’s grant process that did not provide the flexibility tribes needed to address their criminal justice and public safety needs.  The department designed this comprehensive approach to save time and resources and allow tribes and the department to gain a better understanding of the tribes’ overall public safety needs.

The department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) and the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), specifically OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) all award funding under CTAS. The funding can be used to enhance law enforcement, bolster adult and juvenile justice systems, prevent and control juvenile delinquency, serve native victims of crime and support other efforts to combat crime.

Grantees submit applications for CTAS online through DOJ’s Grants Management System (GMS).  Applicants must register with GMS at https://grants.ojp.usdoj.gov/gmsexternal/ prior to submitting an application.  The application deadline is 9:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST), Feb. 28, 2017.  Applicants are strongly urged to apply in advance of the deadline.

For the FY 2017 CTAS, a tribe or tribal consortium will submit a single application and select from any or all of the nine competitive grant programs referred to as “purpose areas.”  This approach allows the department’s grant-making components to consider the totality of a tribal nation’s overall public safety needs.

The nine purpose areas (PA) are:

PA1 – Public Safety and Community Policing (COPS)PA2 – Comprehensive Tribal Justice Systems Strategic Planning (BJA)PA3 – Justice Systems and Alcohol and Substance Abuse (BJA)PA4 – Corrections and Correctional Alternatives (BJA)PA5 – Violence Against Women Tribal Governments Program (OVW)PA6 – Victims of Crime: Children’s Justice Act Partnerships for Indian Communities (OVC)PA7 – Victims of Crime: Comprehensive Victim Assistance (OVC)PA8 – Juvenile Healing to Wellness Courts (OJJDP)PA9 – Tribal Youth Program (OJJDP)

Tribes or tribal consortia may also be eligible for non-tribal specific federal grant programs and are encouraged to explore these other funding opportunities.  Additional funding information may be found at the department’s Tribal Justice and Safety website at www.justice.gov/tribal or the www.grants.gov.

Today’s announcement is part of the department’s ongoing initiative to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.


OVC TTAC Resource Library Now Available!

Visit the new Resource Library, a searchable collection of tools, promotional items, reference materials, and more that you can use for your organization’s development and training needs.

Find the most useful resources in this evolving Library

From advocacy to self-care, search by resource type. Each resource includes a summary to make it easy for you to find the right tools to meet your needs.

Find materials tailored to educators, organizations, practitioners, or program managers.

Search for resources to help you better respond to victims with disabilities, child victims, and other populations.

Looking for materials from a specific curriculum or training? The Resource Library has materials from more than 25 training sources, such as Strategic Planning for Victim Service Leaders and Identifying and Responding to Elder Abuse.

Are you conducting a training on Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) programs and would like your attendees to learn about the new SANE Program Development and Operation Guide? Download the flier to share. The Resource Library has this and a variety of other promotional items you can use to let others know about available resources.

Find the resources you need when you need them. Visit the Resource Library today!


National Institute on the Prosecution of Sexual Violence in Indian Country

Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of rapists are serial offenders who are known to their victims. They are adept at creating, identifying, and exploiting perceived vulnerabilities in their victims, ultimately rendering them more vulnerable to attack through the use of premeditated tactics and non-traditional weapons. Further, rapists routinely benefit from society’s common misconceptions regarding their appearance, behavior, use of weapons, etc. that often results in a failure to identify, report, and hold them accountable for their crimes. To more effectively identify, investigate, and prosecute non-stranger rapists, prosecutors must overcome their own myths and misconceptions about sexual violence, as well as those believed by judges and juries.

The National Indian Country Training Initiative, in partnership with AEquitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women, is hosting the National Institute on the Prosecution of Sexual Violence in Indian Country (NIPSVIC), a 3 ½ day course designed to challenge participants to reevaluate their approach to prosecuting sexual violence crimes. The NIPSVIC will explore the complex issues faced by prosecutors in balancing offender accountability and the impact of criminal prosecution on victims.

In addition to practical case evaluation and litigation skills, the curriculum will examine the benefits of developing a coordinated, victim-centered community response; explain common injuries and relevant medical evidence, and offer guidance on the use of medical experts; explore ethical issues confronted by prosecutors; address the development and improvement of culturally-sensitive victim services; and offer prosecutors the ability to redefine outcomes and the very nature of justice in sexual violence cases. The NIPSVIC will offer hypothetical case problems, role-playing exercises, small group discussions, mini-lectures, and faculty demonstrations.

Rather than merely attending a series of legal lectures, participants will examine their current attitudes and practices by employing active case evaluation, preparation, and trial skills to respond to sexual violence in the varied contexts in which it occurs. The highly interactive format enables prosecutors from different jurisdictions, with varied levels of experience, to learn from one another and engage in “real-life” scenarios that are readily transferable to their everyday work.

Please copy and complete the form for each of your nominees and E-Mail it to the attention of Delores McCarter, Office of Legal Education. Nominations are due by November 10, 2016. The Office of Legal Education will review all nominations and will send an E-Mail advising nominees of their selection on or about November 21, 2016. Selected nominees will also receive travel and lodging information.

In order to ensure that our records are correct, please type in the required information when completing the nomination forms. Illegible and/or incomplete forms will not be considered.

Due to the increasing number of last minute cancellations we must ask that only nominations for those who are certain to attend be submitted.

The Executive Office for United States Attorneys will provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities. Requests should be made to Delores McCarter as early as possible, preferably at least two weeks in advance of the seminar. No nominee will be excluded from a course on the basis of a disability-related accommodations request.

This training is authorized under the Government Employees Training Act.

Any questions regarding this training seminar should be directed to Delores McCarter at (803) 705-5123.


Accessing Grants to Strengthen Justice System Capacity Workshop

The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Indian Country Training Initiative, together with the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Office on Violence Against Women, is pleased to announce the Accessing Grants to Strengthen Justice System Capacity Workshop. This workshop will be held January 18-19, 2017, at the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, South Carolina. Travel and lodging accommodations will be provided by the Office of Legal Education.

In Fiscal Year 2010, the Department of Justice (Department) launched its Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS) in direct response to concerns raised by tribal leaders regarding the Department’s grant process and how it did not provide the flexibility tribes needed to address criminal justice and public safety needs in their communities. Through CTAS, federally-recognized tribes and tribal consortia were able, for the first time ever, to submit a single application for most of the Justice Department’s tribal grant programs. The Department designed this comprehensive approach to save time and resources and to allow tribes and the Department to gain a better understanding of the tribes’ overall public safety needs.

In Fiscal Year 2016, the department awarded 236 CTAS grants to 131 American Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, tribal consortia and tribal designees. The grants provided more than $102 million to enhance law enforcement practices, and sustain crime prevention and intervention efforts in nine purpose areas including public safety and community policing, justice systems planning, alcohol and substance abuse, corrections and correctional alternatives, violence against women, juvenile justice, and tribal youth programs.

This workshop is designed to provide previous and new CTAS applicants with tools and guidance that may assist with the tribe’s efforts to access grant funding and other resources to improve their justice systems. Workshop sessions will be led by Department personnel and experienced technical assistance providers and will focus on topics such as: 1) strategic planning to support a strong program design; 2) writing a proposal; 3) grant writing tips; and 4) DOJ funding opportunities and training and technical assistance resources.

Please complete the form for each of your nominees and E-Mail it to the attention of Delores McCarter, Office of Legal Education. Nominations are due by November 28, 2016.  The NICTI will review all nominations and will send an e-mail advising nominees of their selection on or about December 5, 2016. Selected nominees will also receive information on how to book travel and lodging.

In order to ensure that our records are correct, please type in the required information when completing the nomination forms. Illegible and/or incomplete forms will not be considered.

Due to the increasing number of last minute cancellations, we must ask that only nominations for those who are certain to attend be submitted.

The Executive Office for United States Attorneys will provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities. Requests should be made to Delores McCarter as early as possible, preferably at least two weeks in advance of the seminar. No nominee will be excluded from a course on the basis of a disability-related accommodations request.

This training is authorized under the Government Employees Training Act.

Any questions regarding this training seminar should be directed to Delores McCarter at (803) 705-5123.


Tribal Mapping Resource Project

The Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI), in conjunction with the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) and the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), are working on a Tribal Resource Mapping Project for AI/AN victims/survivors that will link AI/AN victims/survivors of crime and abuse to tribal victim services anywhere in the country and help identify gaps in the network of existing services.

Currently input from Alaska Natives in specialized areas of victim services are being sought. For more information about the resource mapping project or how you can help, visit http://www.victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/tribal-resource-mapping-project.


OVC is Recruiting Tribal Subject Matter Experts in Sex Trafficking

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) at the U.S. Department of Justice, is currently recruiting independent consultants and organizations with demonstrated knowledge of, and experience in, developing programs to provide direct services to American Indian and Alaska Native victims of sex trafficking. OVC is particularly interested in identifying individuals and organizations who have an expert level of knowledge of the dynamics of sex trafficking, including the complexities of the relationship between victims and traffickers, and the challenges of providing direct services to American Indian and Alaska Native victims, as well as a minimum of 5-7 years’ experience:

  • Providing trauma-informed services to American Indian and Alaska Native victims of sex trafficking, including building collaborative partnerships between tribal and non-tribal victim services organizations, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, courts, healthcare providers, civil legal assistance providers, and social services organizations, in order to provide comprehensive and holistic services to victims;
  • Conducting community education and awareness activities that target both non-tribal professionals who are responsible for participating in the systemic response to sex trafficking, as well as American Indian and Alaska Native victims of sex trafficking;
  • Providing capacity-building training and technical assistance to tribal nonprofit organizations; and
  • Meeting the unique needs of urban American Indian and Alaska Native community members.

Subject matter experts who are identified as a result of this recruitment, may be added to OVC’s Training and Technical Assistance Center Consultant Network, and called upon to assist OVC with future projects. All interested individuals and organizations should submit a cover letter and resumes Kimberly Woodard, OVC’s Sr. Tribal Affairs Specialist, at kimberly.woodard@usdoj.gov, no later than August 15, 2016. If you have questions about this recruitment effort, please contact Kimberly either by email or by phone at (202) 307-2952.