The Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women

 

Deleana OtherBull

 

Spending part of your summer learning about domestic violence and sexual assault may not sound like a fun way to spend your time—but it is at the heart of the work of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women and its Native youth violence-prevention and early-intervention initiatives, which include a summer summit for Native youth leaders who have been directly affected by violence.

 

Breaking the cycle of violence begins with empowering youth-led community change. CSVANW’s alliance of more than 50 highly committed individuals and organizations has become a broad, unified voice that works to raise awareness about the public safety of Native women and children at state, tribal and federal levels, CSVANW also provides critical lifeline services.

 

The National Institute of Justice recently released a research report that says four out of five Native women are impacted by violence. Fifty-six percent will experience sexual violence, and 55 percent will experience some form of physical violence. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reports that within the past year more than 60 percent of Native youth have been exposed to violence at home, school or within their communities.

 

Violence is the most common and earliest trauma that Native youth experience. It often occurs within a home and is perpetuated within a family. Violence can have detrimental effects on one’s emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual development. Youth exposed to violence have higher risks for substance abuse, externalized behavioral problems and internalized problems such as extreme stress, depression and anxiety, and they are at higher risk for suicide. Additionally, Native youth who are exposed to violence within the home are 75 percent more likely to become a future victim of violence or a perpetrator.

 

Yet there is still a lack of community-based prevention and early intervention efforts.

 

That’s where CSVANW comes in. Each year, CSVANW hold an annual 4-day Native Youth Summit, a powerful leadership development experience for a cohort of youth ages 12 to 18 from across New Mexico who have been directly affected by domestic or sexual violence. The summit offers experiential learning, personal and team-building challenges. Storytelling and youth-led community councils foster resiliency and inspire the participants to go forth into their own tribal communities and work to break the cycle of violence.

 

CSVANW will offer an advocate training, “Sexual Violence in New Mexico Tribal Communities: Protecting Our Most Sacred” on Sept. 29 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Albuquerque.

 

 

Deleana OtherBull is the executive director for the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, which is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 505.243.9199, www.csvanw.org/about-us/