Hopi Domestic Violence Prevention Program spreads awareness

(Editor's note: The following information was submitted by Valaura James, program coordinator of the Hopi Domestic Violence Prevention Program. For more information about the services provided, please call (928) 738-1115.

The Hopi Tribe's Domestic Violence Program took the initiative in October to participate in the national awareness movement. Our purpose was to provide education and awareness to our Hopi Community by planning activities such as a Domestic Violence Walk and Candlelight Vigil, booth presentations in various locations, education sessions, women's support groups, public board displays along the highway and purple ribbon campaign in the Hopi communities.

As a coordinator, I work with many victims and children of domestic abuse and it saddens me that participation for this awareness event was minimal. There are many reasons why domestic abuse continues to be denied in many families, and perhaps everyone was busy, but it still saddens me that domestic violence is not being taken seriously. Domestic abuse remains one of the highest crimes nationally and I do not ignore our rate of domestic assault and battery here on Hopi.

Agency statistics

The following is Hopi Domestic Violence Program statistics for 2005: 137 victims were provided services, 114 perpetrators of domestic abuse were criminally prosecuted, 111 children witnessed abuse and were provided services, and 58 men were enrolled in the Men's Re-Education Program through civil and criminal court orders.

Agency services

The Hopi Domestic Violence Program services victims of domestic violence, children who witness domestic abuse and perpetrators of domestic abuse. The Hopi Domestic Violence Program provides the following services:

Education

- Domestic violence (DV) education/training for women and children, tribal programs, local schools, and the village communities;

- Education using an age-appropriate curriculum called the "Hopi Anti-Violence Education" (HAVE) for the children who have witnessed domestic violence;

- Holding meetings with teachers, social service providers, tribal programs, and tribal leaders to address issues of violence against women and children and the impact on Hopi family relationships;

- Conducting DV Teen Dating and Intimate Partners presentations for village communities to promote awareness and education about healthy relationships;

- Building partnerships with village communities, schools, Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, Behavioral Health Services, Social Service Programs, and tribal programs, as well as tribal leaders.

Legal Advocate

- Designing a personalized safety plan;

- Filing protection orders;

- Assisting clients in court representation;

- Providing legal assistance regarding protection order, paternity, custody, visitation, divorce, child support, employment and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) issues;

- Assisting with assessing the fullest protection provided under the law;

- Providing personal and emotional support;

- Determining other appropriate community and legal resources;

- Providing appropriate referrals to services.

Victim Advocate

- Providing support to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking by providing:

1. 24-hour on-call crisis intervention response;

2. Shelter referral and transportation;

3. Creation of a Personalized Safety Plan;

4. Referral to legal advocates for protection orders, child support, child custody, and divorce proceedings.

5. Assistance with court notification of court proceedings;

6. Referrals for medical care, counseling, Department of Economic Security, and other community resources.

- Community presentations on Domestic Violence Program.

Men's Re-Education Support

This service was established in 2004 as a component to the Hopi Domestic Violence Program (HDVP) in addressing intimate partner violence. The purpose of program is to change the behaviors and belief systems of men who batter and justify the use of violence against women and children. In this program, all participants are male and mandated by the court to participate.

The Men's Re-education Specialist implements a 40-week program in two parts:

1. First Stage: consisting of eight sessions focusing on domestic violence awareness and education.

2. Second Stage: consists of 32 sessions focusing on creating dialogue to address issues such as intimate partner relationships and alcohol/substance abuse.

Children's Advocate

- Appears at Child Protection hearings, visitation hearings, custody hearings and school meetings;

- Conducts home visits for children who are witnesses of family violence, and recommend appropriate referrals to other service providers;

- Implements children's support groups;

- Builds partnerships with community programs providing services to children on Hopi;

- Establishes working relationships with representatives of the Hopi Criminal Justice System on child victimization issues.

DV Probation Officer

- Monitors domestic violence offenders convicted by the Hopi Tribal Court;

- Conducts courtesy supervision on individuals from other jurisdictions;

- Makes unannounced visits to the probationer's home, worksite and other placed where he may be;

- Conducts unannounced drug and alcohol testing to determine compliance in accordance to conditions of probation.

Volunteer Advocates

These trained community volunteers provide crisis intervention, resource, referral, shelter placement and transportation.

Applications are available with the Hopi Domestic Violence Program.

STAFF

Dorma Sahneyah, Chief Prosecutor

Valaura James, Program Coordinator

Everett Gomez, Men's Re-education Specialist

Mayfa Secakuku, Children's Advocate

Danny Joseph, Probation Officer

Elaine Descheeny, Victim Advocate

Victim Quotes

"I am thankful for the Hopi Domestic Violence Program and Valaura James who has helped me go through the legal process and help me understand that I am not the only one experience domestic violence." Age 26, Polacca.

"Everyday I am afraid to wake up to what kind of mood my husband would be in. Is he going to be mad and kicking things around or will he be happy and say good morning? I worry about what my kids will hear from him and how they will react. I also worry about how he intimidates me, my kids, and my family by this certain look he has on his face or body language." Age 44, Second Mesa.

"It is very comforting to know that the Hopi Domestic Violence Program has a staff that is very supportive and able to listen to my problems, concerns, and experience with domestic violence. If it wasn't for them, I would still remain in an abusive relationship. My family ignored my many cries of trying to find the comfort from them but I was also told, "that is part of being in a relationship." I did not want to accept that because it has taken years for me to come to the domestic violence program for help. Now that I am working and doing my best to be independent so I can take care of myself and children without my ex-husband; we are much happier. I am also grateful to the program for helping my ex-husband understand that domestic violence is not a way of life. I hope that he can take that learning experience and begin a healthier relationship". Age 30, Moencopi.

Offender quotes of Men's Re-Education Program

"Even though being court ordered I would have to say it takes a real man to come and admit he has a problem with Domestic Violence and is willing to come and resolve it. This is the first step to helping yourself and loved ones who care. If I didn't come and help myself, I would probably in jail. Admitting to our problems helps to trust ourselves and the guys we've come close to in trusting. This here is our brotherhood of men. We are all at a great place in starting a new life not only for ourselves and family, but for the outlook of the community which look down on us. Showing that we as men are willing to make a change in our lives. With this said coming from me (name omitted) I would once again thank Everett very much [for] his time spent with us men and the D.V. Program for letting him help us!" - Age 34- Polacca.

"When I first started/attended, just like everybody else, I was in complete denial and did not want to confess or admit any of my wrong doings or guilt. What had really made me realize was the "Relationship History Activity" that brought me to reality and that this exercise is a strong presentation that worked to bring out all the abuse one would create, sober or intoxicated (drugs or alcohol). Whenever classes started, having to report with how your week went also seemed important. What this entailed was to give out any sort of frustration, worries, problems and any others that was on your mind. Having to relief yourself of these was the most comforting results that most of us would rely on, and believe me, it helped many!" -Age- 35, Shungopovi.

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