Native Americans experience significantly higher rates of domestic violence and survivors on reservations have access to fewer resources, said Lupe Lopez-Donaghey, a domestic violence court advocate and Native American speaker, at the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women presentation on Tuesday.
California ranks No. 6 with 40 cases of missing or murdered Native American and indigenous women and girls, according to a recent report by the Urban Indian Health Institute.
Lopez-Donaghey, who has worked with the Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Hotline to create an additional line for indigenous Americans, said many of the resources that are readily available to others do not include Native Americans.
“Victims are in our community and in our workplace, in our friendship circles. We should know about this,” Lopez-Donaghey said.
The National Crime Information Center reported there were 5,712 reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls in 2016. However the U.S. Department of Justice’s federal missing persons database, NamUs, only logged 116 cases, according to the Urban Indian Health Institute.
“This is a reality. This affects us locally. Our native women are vanishing and we all need to take action. It affects us all,” Lopez-Donaghey said.
With November being Native American Indian Heritage Month, Rosalina Camacho, coordinator for the women and gender initiatives programs for the WoMen’s Adult Reentry Center said the center seeks to educate others on different topics and felt it was important to bring Lopez-Donaghey in to speak on campus.
Camacho said the news doesn’t do a good job covering cases of missing indigenous people unless people push it and even then it’s hard.
“This is a topic we should know about. We should be learning about this in sociology, in history, in communication. It’s right now. It’s what’s going on publicly. They’re human. We really need to humanize the native community,” Camacho said.
Lopez-Donaghey said it is important that people not only educate themselves on Native American crimes but also their culture.
She said Native Americans need to have a support system that includes someone who understands their culture to feel safe.
The WoMen’s Adult Reentry Center is located in University Hall 205 and offers monthly awareness events, discussion groups and provides education on sexual assault and domestic violence.
“No matter who you are, you know someone who has been abused. Everybody does,” Camacho said. “If you can understand this, then you are less likely to re-inflict hurt on someone else.”
Camacho said an understanding of abuse will allow people to listen to survivors and be able to direct them to resources that can help.
“I think that’s why we hold these workshops,” she said. “The more we know, the more we’re able to share. Whenever you’re ready, you call, there’s someone on the other side to listen to you.”
If someone is facing abuse on campus, Lopez-Donaghey encouraged students, staff and faculty to contact the Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Hotline at 1(800) 670-1014.
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