Domestic Violence hotline widens referral services
FARMINGTON — A national hotline started this year to help Native Americans affected by domestic violence has extended its database to include programs and services based in New Mexico.
The StrongHearts Native Helpline has been providing free, confidential support, crisis intervention, assistance and referrals to culturally appropriate resources and services since its launch in March.
While the toll-free number connected callers with advocates, its database initially identified and listed resources and programs only in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
Its database recently increased to include programs and resources located in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Texas, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Mallory Black, communication manager for the project, said the addition is part of the effort to build a national network that centers on entities that help Native Americans and understand Native communities and culture.
Many Native American survivors of domestic violence want to connect to tribal resources and services, and the project wants to work and partner with services that focus and help these communities, Black said.
She added project officials and advocates understand there are gaps in available resources for Native Americans. By having this database available to callers, it narrows that divide, she said.
Another advantage of compiling a wide-ranging list is that callers can be referred to services located outside their community if they fear retaliation for seeking services within their community, especially if it is small, Black said.
She added that advocates look at the caller's needs, what they are looking for in terms of service from a program and if they feel comfortable reaching out to the referred service.
In some cases, an advocate can help a caller with establishing first contact with the referred service, Black said.
"Whatever stage in the caller's healing journey, we respond to that," Black said.
The StrongHearts Native Helpline can be reached at 844-762-8483. Advocates are available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mountain time weekdays.
If the call is placed outside business hours, it will connect to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
The project is continuing to develop its database, and the next step is to include resources from the Pacific Northwest, followed by California and the mid-Atlantic region.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.