Sexual assault is a heinous crime. It should not happen to anyone. But consider this: Compared with women of other races, Native American and Alaska Native women are 2.5 times more likely to experience domestic violence. In addition, according to the National Congress of American Indians Research Center, they are two times more likely to experience rape or sexual assault. Men too, can be victims of sexual assault. It effects not only the victim, but the spouses and families as well.
On April 6, the Domestic Violence Awareness Program of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community held the Sexual Assault Awareness Walk to kick off a variety of activities planned in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Community members and employees completed the 1-mile trek to support victims of sexual assault. The walk began at the Salt River Fitness Center, headed west through the Two Waters Complex and then back to the Fitness Center.
“Unfortunately, as Native people, we rank No. 1 in that area [compared with] other nationalities,” said Vurlene Notsinneh-Bowekaty, of the Health and Human Services, Prevention Intervention Services-Health Educator, who then thanked everyone for participating in the walk.
SRPMIC Council Member Deanna Scabby welcomed all the participants. “It’s really exciting and inspiring for all of the people to be here today, and also to [recognize] the staff who work with our [Community] members on this issue,” said Scabby.
“Women and even some men [deal] with [sexual assault]. Council members routinely get updates on families who are affected. We know that it is something that traumatizes our children as well, and as they grow up they grow with those kinds of feelings,” continued Scabby. “Thank you all for having the blessing and opportunity to be here and to be aware of this issue. I admire our women who are single parents, and also … our staff who work with families to get through their difficult time. Thank you too.”
There will be events throughout April. Everyone is encouraged to wear the color teal, which represents sexual assault awareness.