Domestic Violence in
American Indian Women
- Crime victimization rates in the American Indian
community are significantly higher than in the general U.S. population. As a
result of these high rates of violence, American Indian women are at high risk
of homicide, including domestic violence. Homicide is the 3rd leading cause of
death for Native women. Of Native American women murdered, over 75% were killed
by a family member, an acquaintance, or someone they knew.
- The frequency of battering in Indian Country is
believed to be much higher than the national norm. American Indians, in general,
experience per capita rates of violence that are more than twice those of the
- American Indian women experience the highest rate
of violence of any group in the United States.
- American Indian women stand a high risk of losing
their children in instances of physical and sexual abuse.
- Three-fourths of American Indian women have
experienced some type of sexual assault in their lives.
- Abusive relationships are based on the mistaken
belief that one person has the right to control another.
- When the non violent methods of control fail to
work, the person in power moves on to actual physical and sexual violence. The
relationship is based on the exercise of power to gain and maintain control.
- 47% of women will be raped in their lifetime.
- 50% of women will be battered by their
- 40% of women in prison for felonies are there
because they killed an abusive partner/spouse.
- Women of color are 64% of the female prison
population and serve longer sentences for the same crime as do white women or
men of color.
- In the 1970s, it is estimated that 30% of all
Puerto Rican women, and 25-40% of American Indian women were sterilized
without their informed consent.
- Two-thirds of college men report they would
consider raping a woman if they thought they would get away with it.
- Around 50,000 women per year are illegally
trafficked into the US, where they end up in sex industries, domestic work,
- The life expectancy of Native women in the US
is 47 years.
- The International Human Rights Association of
American Minorities has documented that more than 50,000 Native children have
been killed in Indian residential schools.
Domestic Violence is not:
- genetically inherited
- caused by illness
- caused by alcohol or drugs
- the result of stress or anger
- due to �a bad temper�
- due to the behavior of the victim, children or
a problem in the relationship
Domestic Violence is:
- a learned behavior
- Batterers learn from observations of other
people, including family and friends
This includes acts in which physical force is used to coerce the victim. This
might include pushing, shoving, or being held against her will; slapped,
kicked, bit, choked or punched. He may throw objects, locked her out or the
house, abandon her in a dangerous place or force her into a dangerous
situation. There may be threats or use of weapons and rape.
Sexual abuse is most often thought of as rape or forced sexual actions. It can
also include forced undressing or watching of sexual acts. Forced sex when in
danger, sick or after a beating are also forms of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse
might also include anti-woman or demeaning jokes or name-calling (frigid,
whore) intended to degrade the victim. A woman might be treated as a sexual
object and be made to dress in a sexual manner with which she is not
comfortable. There may be jealous accusations regarding sex or the abuser may
minimize his partner�s feelings about sex.
Abuse: In emotional or mental abuse the victim�s feelings may be
ignored and minimized while excessive attention is demanded to the abusers
needs. He may ridicule the victim or women as a group with the intent to
degrade her. He may also ridicule her beliefs, values, religion, class,
heritage or race. As punishment there may be withholding of approval or name
calling. He may isolate her by driving away friends and /or family. She may be
kept from working or be forced to work. He may demand complete control of
money and refuse to share the workload. He may threaten to take the children
or abuse her pets. Manipulation with lies and contradictions is abusive
behavior, as are threats of violence, suicide, and homicide.
Native American Resources
Following are some resources available to the
Native American woman and her children who are victims of domestic violence:
Sacred Circle is a project of Cangleska, Inc., a
private, non-profit, tribally-chartered organization. Cangleska, Inc. is
a nationally recognized organization providing domestic violence and sexual
assault prevention/intervention services.
Mending the Sacred Circle
202 East Superior Street
Duluth, MN 55802
888-305-1650 (toll free)
Northern Plains Tribal Judicial
American Indian Law Center, Inc.
P.O. Box 4456, Station A
Albuquerque, NM 87196
Source: ICADV Legal Information,
Violence Against Native Women
and The Color of Violence Against Women
Copyright 1998-2015 American
Indian Health Council. All rights reserved.