The Radiological Society of North America reported recently that lockdowns during the pandemic have contributed to increased rates of domestic violence across the country as many victims are trapped for longer hours with their abusers.

Because data are confirming that Native Americans are diagnosed with COVID-19 at a much higher rate than the general public, the number of domestic violence incidents is also higher.

The effects of the pandemic on Native Americans are stark. Another recent study cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in the 23 states studied, Native Americans were diagnosed with COVID-19 at a rate 3.5 times higher than the non-Hispanic white population.

StrongHearts Native Helpline -- a free, anonymous and culturally appropriate helpline for Native Americans, has expanded to serve that population. The organization has added online chat and sexual violence advocacy and is currently recruiting advocates to provide 24-hour services. Services will include referrals to resources such as legal advocacy, shelters and Native-centered domestic violence programs in each community as available.

“We’re alarmed by trends in domestic violence across the country during the pandemic. It’s a crisis within a crisis,” Lori Jump, director of StrongHearts Native Helpline, said. “Tribal communities are acutely impacted by this issue. Our organization is working to reach out to our relatives in Indian Country with advocates who understand their experience in a personal and authentic way.”

Those interested in applying to be a StrongHearts Native Helpline advocate should visit www.strongheartshelpline.org/careers for more information. Any indigenous person in North America experiencing relationship violence or anyone who believes a Native American friend, family member or coworker may be in an abusive relationship is encouraged to contact the StrongHearts Native Helpline by calling 844-7NATIVE (844-762-8483) and visiting StrongHeartsHelpline.org to connect with an advocate.

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