Month: December, 2012

NCAI Statement on Bipartisan Movement on Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Tribal Provisions

Thursday, December 13, 2012

National Congress of American Indians (NCAI)

For Immediate Release
December 12, 2012

Washington, DC - Significant progress is being made on the long sought after Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization, including the critical tribal provisions of the bill, and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is calling on House Majority Leader Cantor and authors of recent Senate and House legislation to continue discussions and pass final legislation. 

“We believe there is a path to bipartisan agreement on the tribal provisions of VAWA. We remain hopeful that a comprehensive VAWA bill can and will move forward before this session of Congress ends,” said Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director of NCAI. “It’s hero time on both sides of the aisle, and we believe all the discussions happening on VAWA, in addition to the discussions surrounding the Issa/Cole version, will be successful and will protect all women, including Native women.”

Last week, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Tom Cole (R-OK) introduced H.R. 6625, a new stand-alone house version of VAWA which contains language to addresses court jurisdiction and tribal judicial parity in prosecuting non-Indian defendants. NCAI is supportive of this legislation, and in a letter to the Senate authors of VAWA, Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Crapo (R-ID), NCAI called for support of this legislation.

In a statement released last week, Senator Leahy referenced this letter and provided an optimistic response on the record, “the National Congress of American Indians has urged Senator Crapo and me ‘to take a serious look at the Issa/Cole provision.’  We are.  I urge the House Republican leadership to do so, as well.”   Yesterday a letter was sent by a group of bipartisan members of Congress calling on Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor for action on a comprehensive VAWA.

Female tribal leaders and members of NCAI's Violence Against Women Task Force are actively meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week to ensure Indian Country's voice is heard and to see that the tribal provisions are understood.

About The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI):  
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information visit 


Thom Wallace

Communications Director

National Congress of American Indians 
Learn More @

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Office (202) 466-7767 ext. 207

Cell (202) 630-1094

Fax (202) 466-7797

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CategoriesCurrent News

How abusers get away with targeting Indian women

Thursday, December 13, 2012
THURSDAY, DEC 13, 2012 06:45 AM CST
The House has delayed the Violence Against Women Act over a provision that would protect Native American women
    How abusers get away with targeting Indian women Deborah Parker

“We have serial rapists on the reservation — that are non-Indian — because they know they can get away with it,” said Charon Asetoyer, executive director of the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center in Lake Andes, S.D. “Many of these cases just get dropped. Nothing happens. And they know they’re free to hurt again.”

Asetoyer was talking about the loophole that prevents tribal authorities, who have jurisdiction over crimes committed on Indian territory by Indians, from having any authority over non-Indian male abusers. That’s despite the fact that non-Indian men account for an estimated 80 percent of rapes of Indian women, and that the astronomical rate of abuse of Indian women is well documented by the federal government.

A provision in the Senate version of the reauthorization Violence Against Women Act, which has been languishing in partisan deadlock since the spring, would change that. But according to a Huffington Post report, it’s proving the last sticking point for House Republican leadership. The version of the bill passed by the House did not include the expanded protections for Native, immigrant and LGBT victims, but 10 House Republicans broke ranks Tuesday to urge the leadership to support the Senate version.

“It’s immoral that the Congress of the United States would stand there and say that Indian women are less than their white counterparts, that we shouldn’t have the same equal protection under the law,” said Asetoyer.

Technically, such crimes fall under federal jurisdiction, but in practice, that requires the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, sometimes located hours away from reservations, to investigate and potentially bring charges, which has been extremely rare. If the crime is less than a felony, it tends to slip through the cracks. And that’s if the crime is even reported.

“They don’t report because they don’t believe that anything will happen, that it doesn’t matter to anyone particularly in the justice system that they’ve been violated,” said Dorma Sahneyah, a program specialist at the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center who works with tribes around the Southwest. “It’s very different to get them to believe again that it’s going to be worth the effort.” She has heard often of non-Native men taking advantage of the impunity they’ve been indirectly allowed: “If you’re doing something and you know you won’t be held accountable, you’re going to keep doing it.”

Read entire article at:
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NRCDV Resources Intimate Partner Violence & Marital Status Data

Thursday, December 13, 2012
Attached are two resources we hope you find useful.  
  • Apples to Oranges: Comparing Survey Findings from Selected National Surveys on Intimate Partner Violence. 
In response to the release of the Bureau of Justice Statistics most recent National Crime Victimization Survey report and questions about how this study relates to other national surveys on intimate partner violence, the NRCDV put together the attached comparison. This "crib sheet" examines key aspects of the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), and the National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS), including the timeframe of data collection, the study sample, key findings, methodology and contextual factors. Links to the studies and related resources are also included. Feel free to share this with others who might find it helpful.
  • Domestic Violence, Marital Status Data and Marriage Promotion.  

The use and misuse of statistics has posed particular challenges to domestic violence advocates and allies in several key areas of family policy and practice, including related to the promotion of marriage as the “solution” to domestic violence and other social problems such as poverty. This memo, meant as an "internal" resource for advocates, updates a 2003 review of selected domestic violence, marital status and poverty data and its use to justify misguided public policy approaches that continue to stigmatize single mothers and that offer little in the way of real solutions to either domestic violence or poverty.

Thanks to the NRCDV's TA Team and Policy & Research Team for their great work on these, and to Monica McLaughlin and Joyce Grover for their assistance in framing and reviewing them.   

As always, comments are welcome, as are questions.  Please let us know if you need additional help accessing any of the studies referenced.  

Anne Menard, Executive Director
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
800-537-2238 x 121 (cell - 717–386-5309)        www.VAWnet.org____________________________________________________________
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Key Findings in BJS Report

Thursday, December 13, 2012
Coalition colleagues:  

Please see the press release below from the Bureau of Justice Statistics related to their release of their Special Report on Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2010.  A copy for the 17-page Special Report can be found at:

In addition to the key findings noted below in the BJS press release about the report, we found the following findings interesting: 
  • "However, during the more recent 10-year period from 2001 to 2010, the decline in the overall intimate partner violence rate slowed and stabilized while the overall violent crime rate continued to decline." (p. 1) [emphasis added]
  • "About 4 in 5 victims of intimate partner violence were female from 1994 to 2010.   Most intimate partner violence was perpetrated against females. In 1994, 85% of intimate partner violence victims were female and the remaining 15% were male (not shown in figure). These distributions remained relatively stable over time." (p. 3)
  • "Most female victims of intimate partner violence were previously victimized by the same offender, including 77% of females ages 18 to 24, 76% of females ages 25 to 34, and 81% of females ages 35 to 49." (p. 4)
Please also note this limitation to the marital status data:  "The NSVS collects information on a respondent’s marital status at the time of the interview but does not obtain marital status at the time of the incident or whether a change in marital status occurred after the incident." (footnote c to Table 1 on p. 2, and throughout the report)

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2012                        

Bureau of Justice Statistics
Contact: Kara McCarthy (202) 307-1241
After hours: (202) 598-9320


WASHINGTON ­ Intimate partner violence declined from about 2.1 million victimizations in 1993 to around 907,000 in 2010, according to a report released today by the Justice Department¹s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). This was a 64 percent decline in the rate of intimate partner violence over the 18-year data collection period.

The estimates in this report are based on data from BJS¹s National Crime Victimization Survey, which collects information from victims of crime. Nonfatal intimate partner violence includes rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault committed by a victim¹s current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend.

The overall rate of intimate partner violence declined from 9.8 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in 1993 to 3.6 per 1,000 in 2010. Most of the decline in the rate of intimate partner violence occurred from 1993 to 2000. Over a more recent 10-year period from 2001 to 2010, the overall rate of intimate partner violence stabilized.

From 1993 to 2010, intimate partner violence declined by more than 60 percent for both male and female victims. The majority (85 percent) of victims were female.

Other findings showed:
  • Female victims ages 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 generally experienced the highest rates of intimate partner violence from 1993 to 2010.
  • Most female victims of intimate partner violence were previously victimized by the same offender, including 77 percent of females ages 18 to 24, 76 percent of females ages 25 to 34, and 81 percent of females ages 35 to 49.
  • From 1993 to 2010, Hispanic females experienced slightly larger declines in the rate of intimate partner violence (down 78 percent) than black (down 62 percent) and white (down 61 percent) females.
  • From 1993 to 2010, separated females experienced higher rates of intimate partner violence compared to married or divorced females.
  • From 2000 to 2005, the rate of intimate partner victimization remained stable for married females, while it declined for females who were never married (down 31 percent), divorced or widowed (down 31 percent) or separated (down 30 percent).
  • Females living in households comprised of one female adult with children experienced intimate partner violence at a rate more than 10 times higher than households with married adults with children and six times higher than households with one female only.
The report, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993­2010 (NCJ 239203), was written by BJS statistician Shannan Catalano. The report, related documents and additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics¹ statistical publications and programs can be found on the BJS website at


Anne Menard, Executive Director
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
800-537-2238 x 121 (cell - 717–386-5309)

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CategoriesCurrent News


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Rita Smith, Executive Director

303-839-1852, x105

NCADV joins the family, friends and fans in mourning the loss of domestic violence activist and NCADV Spokesperson, Jenni Rivera, who was killed Sunday, December 9, 2012 in a plane crash.

The Lear Jet 25 with U.S. registration, disappeared minutes after taking off from the northern city of Monterrey on its way to Toluca. The crash has been confirmed by Mexico's Director of Civil Aviation and the NTSB.

At least five people were traveling in the plane: the pilots, Miguel Pérez and Alejandro Torres, and three more passengers: the singer, her publicist and her makeup artist. Before her flight, Rivera had played a concert in Monterrey.

Rivera, an entertainment icon known for her music-with sales of over 15 million albums--as well as her television show, was a tireless champion for Latinas. She was an outspoken immigrants rights activist who actively opposed Arizona SB1070, as well as a supporter of LGBT equality. A teenaged mom, Rivera graduated high school and continued on to earn her degree in business administration. A victim of domestic abuse during her first marriage, Rivera, in 2010, was named a spokesperson for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (  She spoke, giving her talk in both Spanish and English, at the NCADV/NOMAS conference in Anaheim, CA in 2010. "Rage against the dying of the light." Rivera had also established the Jenni Rivera Love Foundation (, which offers support to single mothers and victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

"Jenni Rivera was a powerful role model for Latinas as a spokesperson for NCADV, using her strong voice and commitment to ending violence in families. Her personal experience of abuse, and her successful effort to get free of the violence, gave hope to thousands of victims that they can also find a life without abuse. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence extends our condolences to her family, friends and fans as they begin to deal with this tragic loss," said Rita Smith, executive director.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) has worked for more than thirty-four years to end violence against women by raising awareness and educating the public about the effects of domestic abuse. Our work includes developing and sustaining ground-breaking public policy at the national level and assisting the 2,000+ urban and rural shelters and programs at the local, state, and regional levels of the nation in the programming they offer to victims seeking safety and assistance. Currently, our constituency encompasses more than 50,000 programs, survivors, advocates, and allied individuals and is growing daily.  






Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence compiled the following TA Guidance report, November 2012.


Today in Poverty: GOP Leadership and Violence Against Native Women

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 

Greg Kaufmann on December 12, 2012 - 11:56 AM ET

My question for Congress was and has always been: why did you not protect me, or my family?  Why is my life, and the life of so many other Native American women, less important?”

—Deborah Parker, vice chairwoman, Tulalip Tribes, April 25, 2012.

On April 24, Deborah Parker, vice chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes in Washington State, visited Congress regarding an environmental protection matter.  She stopped by Senator Patty Murray’s office and asked how the Senate reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was proceeding.  Staff members informed her that despite the efforts of Senator Murray and others, provisions to protect Native American women would not be included in the bill.

Parker was devastated.  She had been abused as a child and has also witnessed rape and abuse many times on the reservation.  Each time the “non-Indian” perpetrator wasn’t prosecuted because tribal authorities only have jurisdiction over Native Americans, and state and federal authorities were unresponsive.  This is a crisis not only for the Tulalip Tribes, but also on reservations across the country, where non-Indians are permitted to commit violence against Native women with impunity.

“I don’t feel people understand,” Parker tells me.  “On the reservation there is such a feeling of despair—it’s not a matter of is it going to happen, it’s when is it going to happen?  Perpetrators even mock Indian women because they know they will not get prosecuted.”

The statistics are indeed horrific: one in three Native women will be raped in their lifetimes; two in five are victims of domestic violence; three out of five will be physically assaulted.  Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be assaulted—and more than twice as likely to be stalked—than other women in the US.  On some reservations, the murder rate of Native women is ten times the national average.  According to the Indian Law Resource Center, 88 percent of these crimes are committed by non-Indians—the majority of the population residing on reservations is now non-Indian—and US attorneys are declining to prosecute 67 percent of sexual abuse matters referred to them. 

As a result, the Department of Justice under the Obama Administration proposed that VAWA reauthorization allow tribal courts to prosecute cases of domestic and dating violence, and violations of restraining orders, where a non-Indian has a clear relationship with a tribal member.  It is a limited reform—it doesn’t address stranger-on-stranger violence, rape, or sexual assault, for example.  Still, it’s an important advance in addressing a situation which Parker describes as allowing non-Indians to “come on the reservation and commit heinous crimes and walk off and little to nothing occurs.”

After receiving the news from Murray’s staff, Parker attended her next meeting on the Hill.  But she didn’t finish it.  She returned to Murray’s office and asked to see the Senator.

Murray left the Senate floor within ten minutes and met alone with Parker, whom she has known through many years of working together on tribal issues.  The moment Murray saw Parker she said, “You’re it”—that Parker was the person they needed to be a spokesperson on this issue.  Murray told her that she would hold a press conference the next day, and that Parker should just “tell the story that’s most important to you—I want people to understand how this is affecting tribes.”

On April 25, Parker told of being “one of many girls” violated and attacked as a toddler on the reservation in the 1970s, and how the man responsible was never convicted.  She spoke of an occasion in the 1980s, when she hid her younger cousins while listening to the screams of her aunt who was being raped by four or five men—the perpetrators were never prosecuted.  She described her realization that “the life of a Native woman was short,” and consequently “fighting hard” to attend the University of Washington, where she studied criminal justice in the 1990s “so that I could be one to protect our women.  However, I am only one.”  She asked Congress to support the new provisions in VAWA to help protect Native women: “Send a strong message across the country that violence against Native women is unlawful and it is not acceptable in any of our lands.”

It was a turning point in the Senate’s work on the bill.  It passed that month with sixty-eight votes, including fifteen Republicans—the kind of bipartisanship that is almost unheard of these days—with the new protections for Native women, and also for undocumented immigrant women and the LGBT community.

But in May the House passed a stripped-down version of the bill that contained none of these key provisions.  Only six Democrats voted for it and twenty-three Republicans opposed it.  Speaker John Boehner then used a procedural maneuverto avoid reconciling with the Senate on a final VAWA bill.  Five House Republicans—led by Illinois Congresswoman Judy Biggert—wrote a letter to Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor urging them to adopt the stronger Senate provisions and move to a final bill. 

Yet the legislation languished—until now.

Perhaps sensing from the 2012 election results that the GOP has a serious problem when it comes to relating to women who live on this planet and in this century, Cantor is now negotiating with the Senate and Vice President Biden—who sponsored the original VAWA in 1994.  Word is Cantor has relented on the provisions for the LGBT community and undocumented immigrant women.  He refuses, however, to consider any provision that gives tribes any kind of criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians.

While President Obama and the Vice President have met personally with Parker and other tribal leaders—“they get it,” she says—GOP leadership has so far declined. Last week, when Parker and others asked to join a meeting arranged by tribal lobbyists in DC, she says they were initially told “there wasn’t enough room” and that “they would only meet with our two non-Indian lobbyists.” In the end, she and two female tribal leaders were included in the discussion with Cantor’s staff members.

“But why isn’t GOP leadership having us at the table to have this discussion?” says Parker.  “If they truly want a solution then you sit down with the very people who this bill affects.”

Still, Parker and others close to the negotiations are hopeful.  Republican Representatives led by Darrell Issa and Tom Cole—a member of the Chickasaw Nation—have pushed for a compromise that allows non-Indian defendants the right to remove the case to a federal court if they can prove their rights have been violated by a local tribal court.  (Issa tried to offer this proposal as an amendment when the House Judiciary Committee originally worked on the bill in the spring, but GOP leadership didn’t allow a vote on it.)

Sources close to the negotiations tell me that we are now running out of time to pass this bill and that the next 48 hours are crucial.  If the final bill isn’t approved, Native American groups who have pushed for this for ten years—and steadily worked on this reauthorization for three years—will be forced to start over from scratch.

“If this doesn’t pass it would be one of the worst messages we could send to Native American women,” says Parker. “It would be devastating to communities all over Indian country, and would send a clear message to perpetrators.  It would leave reservations wide open for continued abuse.”

You can tell House Republicans to pass a VAWA that includes these protections here.

Quote of the Day

“It’s time for Native women to have equal access to justice as all other women in the United States.  This separate system that contains huge jurisdictional gaps—where cases aren’t prosecuted and Native victims don’t have access to law enforcement—it’s an unfair, unequal system.  It’s time to put this to an end and give equal access to justice to all Native people.”

            —Katy Tyndell, staff attorney, National Congress of American Indians

Christie Thompson co-wrote the “Clips and other resources” section of this blog, and wrote the “Reports” section.

Today in Poverty posts one day a week. This Week in Poverty posts on Friday mornings, and again on Sundays at Moyers & Company. You can e-mail me at and follow me on Twitter

CategoriesCurrent News

Big Push for Tribal Provisions of VAWA

Wednesday, December 12, 2012



Agreement on VAWA Possible


The tribal provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) have been makingnational news as Congressional leaders seek to find a common path forward.  A possible way forward is within reach.


Now it's time for Congress to make even bigger news by passing a VAWA with the tribal criminal jurisdiction provision that would give tribes authority to prosecute all persons who commit domestic violence on tribal lands.


As members of NCAI's Violence Against Women Task Force work Capitol Hill this week, they need you to take action and make Indian Country's voice heard.


Call immediately and talk to Speaker Boehner's 202-225-0600 and House Majority Leader Cantor's office 202-225-2815 and emphatically urge them to "Be a hero and help pass a VAWA that includes ALL victims and survivors, including Native women. Your leadership can make this happen."


Let them know that a final VAWA that does not protect Native women and does not hold perpetrators accountable is unacceptable.  Read NCAI's resolution stating our position to not support anything less.


Right now, House leadership is in talks with VAWA's Senate and House champions to discuss VAWA.  There is a path to bipartisan passage that protects and provides justice for all victims - including Native American women. Our country must stand to protect all victims.  Under current law, Native victims face dire and life-threatening violence on Tribal lands at the hands of non-Native offenders who cannot be prosecuted by tribal courts.


Members of NCAI's Violence Against Women Task Force are in DC this week meeting with lawmakers in person and calling for action.  Read NCAI Violence Against Women Taskforce co-chair, Terri Henry's recent Op-Ed, outlining the issue.


It's important for us to remind members of Congress that Indian Country is common ground on political issues, and the trust responsibility has no party affiliation.


VAWA has bipartisan support and in recent days, dozens of Republican members of Congress have offered real solutions and solid support for the provisions that include all victims.  Last week, Congressmen Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Tom Cole (R-OK) introduced H.R. 6625, a stand-alone bill which contains compromise language to address Republican concerns that the tribal jurisdiction over non tribal defendants is unconstitutional. These good faith efforts to find common ground and a path forward must not be dismissed.  Also,yesterday a letter was sent by a group of bi-partisan members of Congress calling on Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor for action on a comprehensive VAWA. 


CALL immediately to Speaker Boehner's 202-225-0600 and House Majority Leader Cantor's office 202-225-2815 and strongly urgeHouse Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Speaker Boehner to seize the moment and get this bill done with the compromise tribal jurisdictional provisions intact.  This is their opportunity to be leaders in all of this and we are prayerful and optimistic that they will put politics aside and pass a VAWA inclusive of those thus far left behind.  House leadership needs to hear loud and clear that now is the time to pass a VAWA for all victims-Native women included.  And they need to also hear that a VAWA which does not protect Native women and does not hold perpetrators accountable is unacceptable. 


All victims of violence - including Native Women - cannot afford to wait another year for justice.


NCAI Contact Information: Katy Tyndell, Staff Attornery -

Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights.

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CategoriesCurrent News