Report cites high rate of violence against Native women

American Indian and Alaska Native women suffer from the highest rates of domestic violence, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

In the largest-ever survey of its kind, 39 percent of Native women said they were victims of intimate-partner violence. This was by far the highest rate among women of all racial and ethnic groups.

The survey also showed that nearly 19 percent of Native men were victims of intimate-partner violence. This was the second-highest rate, behind African-American men.

Government studies have long shown that Native women suffer from high rates of domestic violence. But the data published in the current issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report provides the most up to date information about an issue that is gaining national and international attention.

"In Alaska, an Alaska Native woman has a likelihood of rape that is four times higher than a nonnative woman in the state," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the vice chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said on January 23 during debate of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

"But we know it is not only in Alaska that there is this danger of violence that faces our Native women," she said. "Statistics show that Native women around the country are two to three times more likely to be raped than women from other populations in the United States."

The CDC report ties domestic violence to the high rates of chronic diseases and conditions found in Indian Country. According to the survey, people who are victimized by their current or former partner are more likely to suffer from asthma, stroke and heart disease, all common among Native Americans.

Intimate-partner violence, or IPV, is also linked to health risk behaviors like smoking and binge drinking, according to the CDC. With the exception of diabetes, high blood pressure and being overweight, "reporting of health conditions and risk behaviors was significantly higher among women who had experienced IPV during their lifetimes compared with women who had never experienced IPV," the report said.

In an editorial note, the authors of the CDC study said the data doesn't prove that adverse health outcomes are directly caused by domestic violence. They recommend that health care professionals assess whether intimate-partner violence is a factor in treating patients.

Get the Study:
Adverse Health Conditions and Health Risk Behaviors Associated with Intimate Partner Violence --- United States, 2005 (February 8, 2008)

Relevant Documents:
Measuring Intimate Partner Violence Victimization and Perpetration: A Compendium of Assessment Tools (CDC 2006)

Amnesty International Report:
Full Report | Press Release

Online Discussion:
Violence against Native American and Alaska Native Women (April 24, 2007)

Relevant Links:
Join Voices with Native American and Alaska Native Women and Take Action to Stop the Violence -

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