Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

A Message from the Seven Dancers Coalition

 

Traditionally our Haudenosaunee communities similar to other tribes and nations were harmonious and balanced based on the equal respect between the men and women. The roles of the women were seen as being of equal importance to the roles of the men, and the women were held in high regard as the life-bringers and care takers of the earth, plants, and families. The Haudenosaunee similar to many other indigenous tribes and nations were matriarchal, which means the clans and kinship was handed down from a woman to her children. The women were the Clan Mothers and played an important role in the selection of leaders, decision making, in maintaining peace and in promoting a good mind. All of the values and beliefs prohibited the mistreatment or abuse of women and children, and that is why the Seven Dancers Coalition are working hard to promote awareness and prevention of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Teen Dating Violence, Stalking and Sex Trafficking.

It is important to remember the teachings that we were given from the Creator and to recognize that these types of violence need to be put to a stop in our Indigenous communities. The Seven Dancers Coalition would like to provide you with some basic information and ways to identify if these things are occurring in your home, your family or in your community.

Domestic Violence occurs in intimate relationships when one partner abuses the other. It can be physical, emotional, sexual or a combination of all. Domestic Violence can be committed by a man toward a woman, a woman toward a man, a man toward a man, or a woman toward a woman. It can happen in all types of relationships, LGBTQ or heterosexual, and to all types of people, regardless of race or social standing.

Sexual Assault is unwanted, unwelcome, non-consensual sexual activity. Sexual Assault can happen to anyone at any time, but is primarily experienced by women.

Forms of sexual assault are rape and harassment. Harassment is unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors. Other forms include child sexual abuse and incest, stalking, threats, peeping, or taking nude photos.

Emotional Reactions

• Guilt, shame, self-blame

• Embarrassment

• Fear, distrust

• Sadness

• Vulnerability

• Isolation

• Lack of control

• Anger

• Numbness

• Confusion

• Shock, disbelief

• Denial

Psychological Reactions

• Nightmares

• Flashbacks

• Depression

• Difficulty concentrating

• Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

• Anxiety

• Eating disorders

• Substance use or abuse

• Phobias

• Low self esteem

Physical reactions

• Changes in eating or sleeping patterns

• Concerns about physical safety

• Physical injury

• Concerns about pregnancy or contracting an STI or HIV

Impact on significant others

Sexual violence can affect parents, friends, partners, children, spouses, and/or coworkers of the survivor. As they try to make sense of what happened, significant others may experience similar reactions and feelings to those of the survivor. Fear, guilt, self-blame, and anger are but a few reactions they may experience. In order to best support the survivor, it is important for those close to them to get support. Local social services providers offer free confidential services to those affected by sexual violence.

Schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, campuses, and cultural or religious communities may feel fear, anger, or disbelief if a sexual assault happened in their community. Additionally, there are financial costs to communities. These costs include medical services, criminal justice expenses, crisis and mental health services fees, and the lost contributions of individuals affected by sexual violence.

Impact on society

When someone is a victim of sexual violence, it affects not only the survivor, but also all of the people around them. Sexual violence can affect many people in a victim/survivor's life: parents, friends, partners, children, spouses, classmates and/or co-workers.

Part of what makes it so difficult for loved ones is not knowing what to say or do, but there are ways to offer constructive help as well as for you to get support. It's important as a family member to assure the victim that they are believed. The simple act of verbalizing "I believe YOU!" means a lot to a person who feels grateful that they're alive.

Healing can begin at this time by seeking services from programs such as The Three Sisters Program and the Akwesasne Family Wellness Program. These programs will allow the victim important information and resources available and guidance through the healing process.

Teen Dating Violence

Native youth experience violent crime rates up to 10 times the national average. Violence, including intentional injuries, homicide and suicide, account for 75% of Native youth deaths. One in three Native American girls will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes and one in three Native youth will face dating violence.

Teen dating violence is a type of violence that happens between two young people in a relationship. The nature of the harmful and aggressive behavior can be physical, emotional, sexual or technological abuse:

• Physical – For example, when a partner is pinched, hit, bit, shoved or kicked.

• Emotional – This action can involve threatening a partner or harming a partner's sense of self-worth. Some examples include name-calling, shaming, bullying, embarrassing on purpose, or keeping the partner away from friends and family.

• Sexual – This is forcing a partner to engage in a sex act when he or she does not or cannot consent. Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Dating violence often starts with teasing and name calling. These behaviors are often thought to be a "normal" part of a relationship. But these behaviors can lead to more serious violence like physical assault and rape.

• Technological– Using social media to harass, stalk, bully, shame, embarrass or humiliate.

Dating violence can have a negative effect on health throughout life. Teens who are victims are more likely to do poorly in school. They may engage in unhealthy behaviors, like drug and alcohol use. The anger and stress that victims feel may lead to eating disorders and depression. Some teens even think about or attempt suicide.

Although the challenges that our tribal communities face may be staggering, there is a light of resilience building up within our Native youth. They are powerful, creative, innovative and passionate.

 

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