Tag Archives: sexual assault

The Heavy Cost of Revenge Porn

Last week, the fight against revenge porn had several major victories, as Vermont, Oregon and Texas all passed laws criminalizing revenge porn. Google also announced that it would allow victims of revenge porn to request that their images be removed from its search results. Revenge porn is the practice of publicly sharing nude or sexual photos and videos taken in the context of an intimate relationship in order to seek revenge on a former partner. These photos can be uploaded to a website with a global audience within minutes, but the repercussions for the victim can last a lifetime. In 59% of cases, these images are posted alongside private information such as full names, links to social media profiles, phone numbers and home addresses, leaving the subject open to a wide range of harassment, discrimination, stalking and violence.

Revenge porn victims suffer from severe consequences after having their private photos shared online.  One survey found that 93% of revenge porn victims reported significant emotional distress, and many experienced psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety. Victims can also experience major threats to their economic security. Their photos are widely accessible online and if co-workers or employers find the images, it may put their career in jeopardy. Many victims report losing their job after their pictures were discovered and some offenders will even send the photos directly to victims’ workplaces in an attempt to get them fired. These pictures may also complicate the search for a new job, since 80% of employers conduct web searches on potential new hires before an interview. A photo posted with identifying information may come up in search results, influencing employers’ hiring decisions. Some victims must also take drastic and costly steps to protect their safety, including changing their names, leaving their jobs or schools, or moving to new residences to escape pervasive harassment.

In states without revenge porn laws, victims may face staggering financial hurdles in their efforts to have their photos removed from the internet. Many victims have to rely on civil suits to attempt to receive compensation, and must hire a lawyer for a lengthy legal battle that may draw even more attention to the photos. Others may claim that they have a copyright over nude images that they took themselves, and send takedown notices to each website hosting their images, which may also require a lawyer to draft an effective letter. The cost of these legal services may be prohibitive for many victims. Even for those who can afford an attorney, winning a single suit or having one website take their photo down is not the end of the battle. Photos can be continually shared and reposted, making legal efforts to locate and remove the photos a process that can last years. This can exhaust a victim’s resources without any guarantee that the photos and the resulting harm and stigma will be gone for good.

Fortunately, the national climate around revenge porn is changing. States are rapidly implementing revenge porn laws that give victims a greater opportunity for justice and discourage perpetration, and sharing revenge porn is now a criminal offense in 23 states. Google’s new policy may also have a powerful impact in freeing victims from the fear that their images will pop up in web searches by employers, family, friends or romantic partners, particularly if other major search engines follow Google’s example. While the costs and consequences of revenge porn can be high, these changes provide hope that soon victims across the country will have the protections they need to take back control of their lives and keep revenge porn from damaging their happiness, safety and economic security.

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Service Organizations and African American Women

Since 1976, every US president has designated the month of February as Black History Month, or National African American History Month, to celebrate the achievements of African Americans and to recognize their central role in US history. Countless organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have been involved in the fight against violence in these communities over the last 20 years, including the drafting of national legislation like the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). However, despite policy advancements at all levels of government, women of color in general and  African American women in particular still experience the highest reported rates of domestic violence and sexual assault in the country. As a result of these heightened rates of violence, it is imperative that women of color have access to and feel comfortable seeking out social services support and resources, especially resources that provide the financial help that is critical to a survivor’s wellbeing.

Purple R.E.I.G.N., a social services organization in New Jersey, was established in 2008 to provide “multi-disciplinary empowerment services and preventative strategies to victims of domestic violence.” The organization’s founder, Asia Smith, is an African American woman who, after overcoming a near-deadly relationship, started Purple R.E.I.G.N. to serve survivors and find solutions to the critical issues that they face. The organization offers support through legal services, relocation services, therapy, safety planning, career and education workshops, fitness and nutrition training, parenting classes, and financial empowerment classes.  Purple R.E.I.G.N. also employs a largely Black staff, which allows them to reach out to women who might feel uncomfortable or alienated in many other service facilities.

The Women of Color Network (WOCN) is also focused on helping survivors from underserved communities of color. Active within the violence against women movement since 1997, they educate women of color through leadership trainings, mentor programs and technical assistance, as well as provide statistics and research about sexual and domestic violence specific to these communities . They also work to create policy change in partnership with other gender- and violence-focused organizations, coalitions and government programs. Especially important is their work pertaining to economic justice, which has led to the release of five new reports from the field: Tribal Sexual Assault, T and U Visas, Policy Advocacy, Reentry, and Strengthening Services. These papers focus on the overarching economic barriers facing survivors of violence and how we can all respond through enhanced policies, programs, and advocacy to ensure survivor safety and economic access.

Even with the support provided by organizations such as these, there are still many African American women who do not feel comfortable leaving their abusive relationships because of negative social and economic issues. In an article published by The Grio, clinical psychologist Dr. Nathilee A. Caldeira states that there is a socioeconomic divide within the African American community and that divide correlates to exposure to community violence. She claims, “because of the need to cope with stressors that are related to basic survival, socio-economically disadvantaged African American women may give the risk of intimate partner violence less importance. That in turn places them at greater risk of severe violence and death.” Experts like Dr. Caldeira and activists like Smith focus on the factors that contribute to the perpetration of violence in order to prevent further violence and educate women out of these abusive situations. Economic resources must also be provided in conjunction with education in order to facilitate escape from abuse and long-term independence.

For more information on the economic and safety needs of African American survivors, resources these organizations provide and how you can get involved, visit Purple R.E.I.G.N. and the Women of Color Network’s websites as well as WOW’s Survivors of Color and Economic Security brief from the Population Policy Series.

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FY16 Budget Would Help Minimize Key Economic Barriers to Survivor Safety

Violence can impose significant costs on survivors, including physical and mental health care, lost wages, safety planning and relocation costs. Furthermore, economic abuse can result in life-long consequences due to job loss, debt or damaged credit. When combined with today’s high cost of living, shortage of good jobs and diminished safety net, these impacts severely limit survivors’ options to achieve safety and justice. WOW applauds the Obama Administration for increasing investments in programs that support the safety and economic security of intimate partner violence, sexual assault and stalking victims in their recent Fiscal Year 2016 budget.

The primary source of these programs is the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice, which was allotted nearly $474 million for a proposed increase of $44 million. This includes funding for shelter and housing services, which are critical in light of how often survivors cite housing, employment and other economic needs as barriers to recovering from violence. The additional $10 million for the Legal Assistance Program would also greatly help the safety and recovery of survivors by improving their ability to access remedies that only exist within the justice system, such as restitution and economic relief in protection orders. Although the general sexual assault services program was unfortunately budgeted at $3 million less than last year, we are pleased to see a $14 million increase to funding for campus violence. Addressing campus-based sexual assault is especially important considering the impact violence has on college completion and how critical education is for economic security and stability.

Beyond the Department of Justice, there are proposed investments to other federal agencies that directly or indirectly support survivors. Specifically, the budget provides $37 million to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for 5,000 new housing vouchers for survivors in need of emergency transfers from their existing assisted housing as well as vouchers for survivors through the Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program. The Department of Health and Human Services increased their budget to help survivors through shelters, support services and the national domestic violence hotline from $138.5 to $162 million. The shelter services are largely coming through Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) funds, which provide badly needed support to local programs. Lastly, survivors are better able to escape and recover from abuse if they have access to quality employment with an adequate wage and supportive leave policies. For these reasons, we commend the President for his recommendations to encourage state paid leave policies, raise the minimum wage, strengthen pay discrimination enforcement and expand job training programs.

We are encouraged to see some of the economic barriers that prevent survivors from seeking safety and justice being addressed in the Obama Administration’s budget. These investments are necessary to provide survivors of intimate partner and sexual violence and stalking the resources needed to move forward. We remain hopeful that Congress will take steps to make these proposals a reality.

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Addressing Sexual Assault on Campus is a Matter of Gender Equity

Education is an important tool to achieving economic security. Eighty percent of college graduates with a four-year degree are economically secure. Yet this important opportunity is often accompanied by a troubling reality for women – 28.5% of college women reported an attempted or completed sexual assault before or since entering college.

The prevalence of sexual violence on campuses creates a hostile environment for female students, which undermines their ability to take advantage of the same educational opportunities as male students. The impacts of sexual assault can have life-long repercussions on the lives of survivors. This is exacerbated when colleges and universities fail to prevent and appropriately handle cases of sexual assault.

As a result of sexual assault, survivors are often faced with high healthcare costs including care for physical trauma, reproductive health care (if accessible at all) and counseling. Emotional trauma, fear of running into the person who raped them, and/or threats from their rapist result in diminished academic performance. Ultimately survivors may drop out of school, leaving them with debt and poor employment prospects. One study found that the lifetime cost of rape is $145,000 due to health costs, legal fees and lost wages. More information on the economic impacts of sexual violence facing college-aged women can be found in a 2013 brief released by the Economic Security for Survivors Project.

Addressing the prevalence of sexual assault among college aged women is a matter of gender equity. Women who are assaulted face life-long barriers to recovery and economic security. 

Last Friday, WOW joined dozens of advocates and leaders in the movement to combat violence against women in the East Wing of the White House where President Obama and Vice President Biden announced a new campaign to address sexual assault on campus as part of continued efforts in response to recent findings from the “Not Alone” report. The new campaign, “It’s On Us”, seeks to prevent sexual violence on campuses by engaging bystanders and making the case that every member of the community has a role to play in creating safer campuses where intellectual growth is accessible to every student. “It’s On Us” asks that everyone be a part of the solution by pledging to (1) recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, (2)  identify situations in which sexual assault may occur, (3) intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given, and (4) create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.

We are glad to see that the administration is committed to ensuring the safety and equality of opportunity for women. We hope you join us in signing the pledge and becoming part of the solution. #ItsOnUs

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Responding to Skeptics of Violence Against Women

Recently, two popular columnists with the Washington Post started uproars when they wrote articles scrutinizing the prevalence of domestic violence and sexual assault in the United States.  The first, by conservative writer George F. Will, argues that the status of “survivor” (his quotes) was a coveted position to hold on college campuses, and that the appallingly high rates of sexual assault on college campuses were fudged. Shortly thereafter, marriage specialist Bradford Wilcox wrote a piece suggesting that women should marry the men they have children with in order to lower the incidence of domestic violence. Both articles have been met with hefty criticism from scholars, journalists, activists and students alike, most citing clear victim blaming and misinterpretation of the related data.

Will and Wilcox readily demonstrate an ignorance of the current climate of violence against women in the US. About 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and only 12% of those cases are ever reported. Around 20 to 25% of women and 6.1% of men experience sexual assault during their time in college. College campuses have been in the national spotlight for several months now, with the number of Title IX suits against colleges increasing and President Obama beginning a White House Task Force to address college sexual assault.

Despite the often overwhelming reality of coping with sexual assault, George Will refuses to empathize. Will contests that students who report sexual assault or dating violence are conferred “survivor privilege”, which he never actually defines. We might be able to gather, however, that he assumes that there are certain benefits afforded by universities to people who claim that they have experienced sexual assault, as though universities across the country are bending over backwards to cater to survivors. However, Will entirely overlooks the oppressive environment surrounding survivorship. Survivors are often blamed for their assaults by peers and by law enforcement if they choose to come forward. They are frequently afraid to report sexual assault: the perpetrator is likely to be a classmate, boyfriend, neighbor or other acquaintance rather than a stranger. According to RAINN, the national prosecution average is only 8%, and 97% of rapists never see jail time. Economically, this climate of ignorance and shaming often causes survivors to lose scholarships, part-time jobs, and even drop out, which can lead to greater economic insecurity in the long-term due to a lack of higher education.

Bradford Wilcox’s recommendations that women marry the men they have children with to avoid violence hits on the same victim blaming mentality present in Will’s article. Arguing that women in married relationships are safer than unmarried woman in a relationship or with children, Wilcox takes single-variable statistics put out by the Department of Justice in 2012 that focus only on family composition, ignoring the subtleties of domestic violence. In revisiting the original data, it is obvious that this analysis does not encompass the full picture. Wilcox omits many other factors that contribute to the occurrence of domestic violence, such as age, race, education level and income. For instance, married women tend to also be whiter, more educated and in a higher income bracket. However, domestic violence is also more common in situations when the victim has a higher education level than their abuser. By Wilcox’s “if…then” logic, we could draw the similarly shortsighted conclusion that women should stop attaining high levels of education in order to avoid domestic violence. Additionally, encouraging survivors to marry their abusers will not only fail to stop the abuse, but will make it easier for offenders to commit economic abuses and make it even harder financially for survivors to escape.

Articles like these ignore the gravity of the consequences of the violent crimes perpetrated against women every day. As a female student in university, it would be refreshing to see someone respect a survivor’s point of view, instead arguing for justice for survivors and the necessity of more accountable sexual assault prevention. It is ludicrous that survivors are being asked to switch schools, wait until a rapist graduates and rely on marriage to avoid violence instead of holding society and institutions accountable to acknowledge and support them.

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Not Alone: White House Recommendations on Sexual Assault at College

Wider Opportunities for Women applauds the recent efforts of the White House to support students and prevent campus sexual assault, which is critical given the fact that 20% of women and 6.1% of men are assaulted during college. With increased media attention and awareness of sexual assault on college campuses, their findings and suggestions are timely. In October 2012, an Amherst student wrote an opinion article about the struggles she faced after reporting her sexual assault, which sparked other students to express their frustrations with their college administrations through both news stories and Title IX complaints. Currently, 55 colleges, universities, graduate schools and trade schools are being investigated by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for Title IX complaints, including Dartmouth College, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Occidental College.

In response to the increased press of sexual assault on campuses, President Barack Obama and the White House Council on Women and Girls issued a renewed call for action and created the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault to investigate this issue. On April 29th, after three months of discussion, the Task Force released their initial report, Not Alone, which details the problem as well as offers some preliminary solutions to campus sexual assault. One of the recommendations is to create a campus climate survey to gauge the prevalence of and attitudes towards sexual assault. Additionally, the Task Force discusses the need for better prevention, including implementing bystander intervention training and researching new prevention strategies. Lastly, the report argues for better policy, training and disciplinary systems in colleges.

The Task Force also clarified schools’ responsibilities under Title IX which includes allowing and advocating for schools to issue no-contact orders, provide counseling, and change housing and class arraignments to support the safety of the survivor. The written account of one student from Harvard‘s struggles in the aftermath of rape demonstrates the need for such policies. She experienced constant fear living in the same place as the perpetrator, but the administration refused when she asked if he could be moved and instead put the burden of relocating on her. Dealing with the sexual assault and fears about her safety caused her to fall behind on her schoolwork and ultimately plan to drop out.

This case also highlights how the difficulties many survivors currently face at colleges can affect their short-term and long-term economic security. In the short-term, they may be unable to finish classes, receive lower grades, face costs associated with relocating and safety planning, or even leave school. In the long-term, lower educational attainment resulting from an assault can affect survivors’ future earning potential and stability. The Not Alone report is an important first step in improving how college administrations, advocates and law enforcement address sexual assault. We hope it will expand the services that schools can and will give to survivors, including supports that are essential to maintaining or restoring the safety and economic security of these young survivors.

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Sexual Assault on College Campuses

On January 22, 2014, President Barack Obama and the White House Council on Women and Girls released a renewed call for action on ending sexual assault. This report detailed statistics and possible best practices for their newly created task force to consider. The new task force will concentrate on campus sexual assault, but will also examine ways to change rape culture, improve access to vital resources and increase arrests, prosecution and conviction around the country. The task force also hopes to continue to improve services that were enhanced by the 2013 Violence Against Women Act reauthorization for vulnerable populations, such as teenagers, Native Americans and the LGBT population. One aspect that the task force can consider is economic insecurity due to difficulties at school that result from experiences of sexual assault. College students who have been sexually assaulted can experience physical and emotional problems that make it difficult for them to attend class, do their work and be on campus. As a result, their grades often sink and some even leave school.

Sexual assaults on college campuses have always been an issue but recently, people have been speaking out about their experiences. The media began focusing on the issue in October 2012 after a former Amherst student wrote an opinion article about being dismissed and ignored by her school’s administration when she reported being raped. Although not the first story about challenges between students and college administrations, this article sparked other students to express their frustrations with their college administrations around sexual violence. Some students filed Title IX complaints against their school administration, including Vanderbilt, Swarthmore, Occidental and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Additionally, Yale was investigated by the federal government under Title IX complains about underreporting instances of sexual assault and creating a “sexually hostile environment”. Recently, Yale’s President announced his wishes to change the way the school addresses sexual assault, specifically focusing on education and prevention programs.

My alma mater, Oberlin College, created a Sexual Offense Policy Task Force last year to address changes to both our policy, and our education and prevention programs. Because I had previously researched the beginning of the Sexual Offense Policy at Oberlin in the 1980s and 1990s, I was chosen to take part in the Task Force. During my nine months on the Task Force, we held two public forums to discuss our progress and hear faculty, staff and students’ opinions and questions. We also launched a new website on the Sexual Offense Policy which clarifies the policy and offers resources. It was an amazing experience to be part of a change in how Oberlin addresses sexual assault. I can only hope that President Obama’s Sexual Assault Task Force is able to spark more colleges across the country to provide the necessary levels of education, prevention and support needed to fully address sexual assault on campus.

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Government Shutdown Impacts Survivors

An average of three women are murdered by their intimate partners in the US everyday, which means since the start of the government shutdown approximately 45 women’s lives have been lost due to intimate partner violence. Survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence are being seriously affected by the government shutdown. Due to the congressional gridlock, domestic violence programs are struggling to remain open and college sexual assault investigations have been put on hold.

Many victims of domestic violence remain with or return to their abusers due to financial insecurity. One way to combat this is through the availability of domestic violence shelters. Studies confirm that access to domestic violence shelters leads to a 60-70% reduction in occurrence and severity of re-assault compared to survivors who did not utilize shelter services. Yet despite the clear need, shelters are struggling to stay open due to funding restrictions. Prior to the shutdown, sequestration caused a $20 million reduction in funding for domestic violence shelters, and even before sequestration, almost 80% of shelters reported receiving less funding from the government than they previously had. Now that the government shutdown is in place, domestic violence programs have been notified that they won’t be able to draw down the grant money they rely on, typically from the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The impact of the loss of these funds will differ depending on how much each program relies on federal money and how their budgets are structured; however, for organizations that are primarily funded through federal grants, even temporary disruption of cash flow will be damaging.

In addition to victims of domestic violence, victims of sexual assaults on college campuses are also facing unfavorable news due to the shutdown. With 1 in 5 women experiencing completed or attempted sexual assault while in college, it is outrageous to hear reports that universities are not properly handling reports of assault. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has been handling numerous formal complaints about universities violating Title IX and the Clery Act prior to the government shutdown. These are federal laws that require colleges to fight gender-based violence and accurately report the number of sexual assaults that occur on campus. However, due to the federal government shutdown, officials have been unable to work on college campus sexual assault investigations. The shutdown isn’t cancelling the investigations, but work on these investigations cannot continue until the government reopens.

The government shutdown is more than the monuments being closed and Congressional members being obstinate. For victims of sexual assault on college campuses it means a slower movement towards justice and less of a chance to recover and move forward with their valuable education. For low-income women who will have less access to shelters, it could mean more abuse, less physical safety and financial independence, and even more fatalities.

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Health Care Challenges Facing Female Veterans

Currently 360,000 women use Veterans Affairs (VA) medical services. This number is expected to double in the next five years due to the more than 280,000 female soldiers that have been returning from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade. VA medical services have been expanding services for female veterans since Congress passed the “Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2009,” yet there is still room for improvement.

The American Legion, the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, recently released the 2013 Task Force Report on Women Veterans’ Healthcare, which included evaluations and recommendations based on visits to 15 VA medical center sites. One major challenge noted in the report was that female veterans do not always identify themselves as veterans and are not always aware of the benefits they are qualified to access. In the US, the term “veteran” has historically only been applied to men, especially because women are not in combat-specific roles despite still experiencing extreme warfare in combat-support roles. Of the women that do identify as veterans and seek treatment from VA medical services, they are met with unnecessary burdens. Female veterans have not been receiving mammogram results in a timely manner and all VA child care pilot sites will close on October 2nd unless extended by Congress. This would be highly problematic because female service members generally assume the role of primary caretaker for their children and are much more likely to be a single parent than male service members.

A major failing is that many VA facilities do not offer adequate or specialized residential inpatient mental health treatment programs. While the VA has improved outpatient care, there is still a need to increase the number of inpatient mental health treatment programs for female veterans. These services would provide help to veterans who have experienced military sexual trauma (MST), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse and a variety of other conditions.

MST is the psychological trauma resulting from a physical assault or battery of a sexual nature or sexual harassment which occurred while the veteran was serving on active duty or active duty for training. MST occurs at high rates throughout the armed forces, dispropor­tionately affecting women. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, one in five female veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have screened positive for MST, and that is only counting the veterans that went to the VA for help. Young female veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan frequently do not show up for their first VA appointments because the VA campus can remind them of the base where the assault occurred. Often when seeking treatment for the assault, female veterans have experienced the VA recommending the use of prescription drugs for treatment, rather than the VA examining the impact of the assaults.

Common conditions linked to MST can lead to underemployment or unemployment. Further, post-9/11 Iraq and Afghanistan war female veterans are less likely to find a job than their male counterparts, with the unemployment rate for post-9/11 female veterans hitting a high of 19.9 percent in September 2012. High unemployment leaves female veterans at risk for homelessness with female veterans now being the fastest-growing segment of the country’s homeless population.

In order to make sure that the women who have bravely served the United States receive appropriate care, the VA should ensure that female military members are made fully aware of their status as veterans and make certain they are aware of the VA health care benefits they are eligible to receive when they transition out of the service. The VA should strive to provide same day results for highly suggestive mammograms and should work to continue the VA child care programs. Additionally, the VA should make sure they are continually striving to improve mental health treatment for MST and other disorders resulting from victimization and/or trauma. It is important that all veterans, including women, receive the care they need after serving in the military with as few challenges as possible.

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Protection Equality for Alaskan Natives

Although the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) on March 7, 2013 represents a long overdue and important victory for tribal communities, it fell short of extending legal protections to all Native communities. Alaskan Natives were left out.

Native Americans and Alaskan Natives are less than 2% of the US population, yet they suffer intimate partner violence (IPV), sexual assault and stalking at rates much higher than their counterparts from other racial and ethnic backgrounds. Despite estimates that at least 50% of victimizations against Natives go unreported to the police, studies have found that:

In addition to suffering higher rates of violence, Native survivors historically had been unable to prosecute the majority of their abusers. Prior to the most recent VAWA reauthorization, tribal courts did not have jurisdiction to prosecute non-Natives for crimes committed in Indian Country. Unfortunately, for the 86% of Native survivors who reported sexual assault stated that their attackers were non-Native, this meant that they had no legal pathway to pursue justice. Thanks to the recent VAWA reauthorization, tribal courts finally have the power to investigate, prosecute, convict and sentence ALL perpetrators of IPV and sexual assault in Indian Country. Alaskan Natives on the other hand, who suffer even higher incidences of physical and sexual violence and stalking than Native Americans from the continental US, and comprise more than 40% of the county’s Native American population, were excluded from crucial protections. Due to Senator Lisa Murkowski’s “special rule for the State of Alaska,” all Alaskan Natives, except the Metlakatla tribe, were left of out of section 904 and 905, which would have allowed prosecution of non-Native perpetrators of IPV and the issuance of Protective Orders (PO) for acts of IPV against Alaskan Natives, respectively.

Barriers to Economic Security

While trying to access safety and services and rebuild economic security, Alaskan Natives encounter many insurmountable obstacles. In addition to barriers due to the lack of cultural competency and language capacity of law enforcement, medical providers and lawyers, Alaskan Natives are geographically isolated due to their rural setting. Distance and harsh weather conditions can make travel to access police officers, emergency rooms, shelters and court houses very slow, challenging and expensive. Additionally many services in Alaska that could assist survivors suffer severe resource deficiency. For example, the Indian Health Service (IHS), the only accessible provider for many survivors, often lacks enough funding to provide forensic exams which are crucial for prosecution. Consequently, survivors are charged for the cost of the exam, which can be between $700 and $800. The cost of recovery and the challenges to accessing safety threaten Alaskan Natives’ economic security, possibly putting them at higher risk for future violence.

Access to protective orders and the ability to prosecute a perpetrator are critical to survivor safety and their ability to remain economically secure. A protective order allows survivors to continue to go to work to be able to cover basic needs – housing, food, transportation. Additionally, the ability to prosecute an abuser can decrease repeat offenses, empower survivors during the process of recovery and may prevent future attacks by sending a message to perpetrators that they are no longer immune from justice. Alaskan Natives deserve the right to be safe from violence and to prevent it from re-occurring by maintaining economic security; they must be extended the same rights and protections as all survivors.

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