October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. As IWR is passionate about creating space for Native womxn to live and grow, I’ve found this time grow heavy on my heart. So many of us are victims of sexual and domestic violence. I want to encourage my native sisters and brothers everywhere, on rez or off in urban areas of life. This is for you.
What do the numbers really look like? How do we stay informed on the facts while also moving with rapid speed toward change?
Lets talk about some stats.
* I realize and recognize that this information may be triggering for some folx! Please practice self care and scroll down if you need to!*
On Domestic Violence (Broadly):
Every 9 seconds in the US a women is beaten or assaulted.
Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes
Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.
Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.
For Native Women:
84% of Native Women have reported experiencing violence from partners and/or family members
56% of Native Women have reported experiencing some sort of sexual violence
Over 90% have experienced violence from a non-tribal member
Over 60% have experienced psychological aggression or coercion
*You've passed the stats!*
There are so many statistics to take into consideration and I’m sure you know that we could be here all day with the facts. Our communities of womxn and men and nonbinary folx are in crisis. I think about this often. In conversation with friends, elders, and loved ones, I am realizing that violence has become the narrative, the soundtrack to our lives. But love, in its many forms, is not supposed to hurt, in any way. (That is different of course you’re into kink and as that’s a whole different conversation, by all means, get your whole sexual life BOO!)
But really, how can we establish sisterhood? How do we remain in tribe and comfort with those around us while attempting to heal from generational trauma? These are good questions I suppose, and as the Advocacy Trainer, I’m tasked with finding some answers. Here are some of the answers that I’ve come to as a survivor.
In order to create healing space for community, my primary focus has to be myself. If I don’t take care of myself, then I can’t possibly take care of anyone else? Although black and brown womxn are tasked with being "Superwoman" in many of our communities, we are in fact beautifully human. Beautiful humans need rest, recharging, love, food and warmth. I encourage you to find a quiet time and ask yourself these questions. Maybe you write them down, sing them, smudge with them, dance with them or just wash dishes with them. However you choose is your own healing. I'll share with you my answers below.
What does domestic violence look, smell, taste, feel like to me?
It looks like someone isolating me.
It looks like manipulation and separation.
It feels like loneliness
It looks like depression
It feels like constant pain
It looks like someone who claims to love me, not letting me be free, be myself
It looks like someone mocking my traditions
It looks like someone refusing to allow me to smudge and find my healing.
It looks like someone telling me that I will never be successful
It feels like someone touching me without consent
It smells like sex that I did not consent to
It smells like burning of food that used to make me feel warm and full
It tastes like fear
It tastes like metal of blood
And so many more.
How do I heal? What does my healing look, feel, taste, smell like?
My healing looks like finding quiet time with the earth beneath me, supporting me
My healing looks like calling my village and checking in with each other.
My healing looks like a late night bath
My healing feels like comfy covers.
My healing feels like comfy clothing and loving my body
My healing tastes like that good fry-bread, cornbread or just a smoothie made with plants from my garden.
My healing tastes like orange juice
My healing smells like smudge smoke
My healing smells like brownies cooking from my Great Aunt's recipe.
And so many more.
My brothers, sisters, family, village, real love does not hurt and just because someone is in pain does not give them the right to hurt you. You do not deserve hurt. You deserve love and rest and all the things your soul needs to flourish. In this last day of October and Halloween candy, be gentle with yourself. As the seasons change, so too, do you. Allow yourself the space to grow and expand, to find your fullness, to smell the flowers as they fade. The grass as it changes. The wind as it whistles.
I pray you find healing. I pray we all do.
Sending love and smudge smoke always
For Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
For Black Women, Say Her Name