OKMULGEE, Okla. – The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Center for Victims Services utilizes the month of April to take part in the annual observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
MCN CVS hosts several community-wide events to bring awareness to the issues and educate community members on services and laws regarding the subject.
In March, the CVS held the Women’s Empowerment and Support Group for domestic and sexual violence survivors at three different locations.
Survivors had the opportunity to express themselves and share aspects of their traumatic experiences and how they were able to heal from it. They did this by engaging in art-related activities.
According to the group mission, “Artistic expression can be a simple, yet empowering experience of ‘telling without talking’ about abuse and seeks to enhance survivors’ skills of self-care, connection with others and a connection to their own body, mind and spirit.”
The month of April had various activities for supporters and survivors to take part in like “Chalk the Walk”, the MCN door decorating contest, survivors walk, and Denim Day.
“Chalk the Walk” was held in front of the Mound Building on April 10 and at the College of Muscogee Nation on April 17. Participants wrote positive affirmations for sexual violence survivors.
Departments used the theme “STEP FORWARD! Prevent. Report. Advocate.” to support survivors.
The Survivors Walk was held at the Under One Roof building in Eufaula on April 19 and at the MCN Complex Walking Trail in Okmulgee on April 21.
In 2022, the MCN reauthorized the 2013 Violence Against Women Act, restoring criminal jurisdiction over non-Natives that commit crimes of domestic violence, dating violence and violation of protective orders.
Since the reauthorization, the tribe has added and expanded services as well as strengthened the policing and judicial handling of crimes under VAWA.
Sarah Deer is a Mvskoke citizen and an expert of tribal law. She has advocated for Native women and pushed for changes.
“The 2022 authorization restores tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians for a series of crimes that Native people and tribal nations have been asking for since 1978,” Deer said in a previous interview.
Statistically, a Native American woman faces the risk of being sexually assaulted over twice as much as a woman who is non-Native, according to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Research shows that Native women living on reservations face the highest rates of sexual assault in the country. One in every three Native Women living on a reservation will become a victim of sexual violence.
Reports have shown that regardless of reservation location status, one in three Native women will report being raped, compared to the national number of women of all ethnicities, which is one in six.
In the study, it states that American Indians were more likely to be victims of assault and rape/sexual assault committed by a stranger or acquaintance rather than an intimate partner or family member.
Around 5,900 sexual assault and rape cases reported annually involve Native American females 12 years and older. Nearly 60 percent of these reported offenses were crimes committed by a Caucasian/white offender.
The MCN Center for Victim Services, formerly known as the Family Violence Prevention Program provides services for domestic violence, advocacy and support services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
The department offers specialized services including assistance in locating emergency shelter, assistance with filing protective orders, court advocacy, crisis intervention, and assistance in locating medical services. It also provides an accompaniment to a sexual assault nurse exam, safety planning, emergency transportation, child sexual assault advocacy and family support, counseling referrals, limited financial assistance, and referrals for additional services depending on an individual’s needs.
For more information call 918-732-7979.