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EGAN, Minn. — With domestic and dating violence on the rise during the COVID-10 pandemic, a helpline for Native American victims has accelerated the launch of a new online chat feature.   

StrongHearts Native Helpline (1-844-762-8483), a culturally appropriate domestic violence helpline for Native Americans, launched the new chat advocacy tool on Monday morning. The new service enables victim-survivors, friends and relatives to connect with an advocate using an online chat service. Users can connect with a highly-trained advocate in a free, anonymous and confidential one-on-one chat session.

There is no need to download an app or any software to use it. Users can simply click the Chat Now icon on the StrongHearts Native Helpline website daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT.

This new tool increases accessibility for individuals who may be hearing impaired or those who may be uncomfortable or unable to vocalize a call for support.

“StrongHearts is really proud to be increasing access to our culturally-appropriate advocacy services during a time of great need,” said Liz Carr (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians), senior Native affairs advisor. “Implementation of digital advocacy not only enhances our ability to provide advocacy services but also improves accessibility for survivors by offering a new way to reach out.”  

Carr added that the order to shelter-in-place created yet another barrier to using a phone to access advocacy services and that without an alternative option, survivors were at a greater risk.

According to StrongHearts Services Coordinator Joy Samuelson (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe), the general advocacy skills used by the advocates will be the same, but prompt responses via text will be key to providing contacts with the same level of support services they would get when calling StrongHearts. 

“I am confident in our advocates and the help they provide our communities,” said Samuelson. “This will truly be an important service we provide, especially given the current state of things with Covid-19. We're hoping to reach more people who may need us.”

Contact StrongHearts Native Helpline at 1-844-7NATIVE (1-844-762-8483) or by clicking on the Chat Now icon found on the homepage of the StrongHearts website located at strongheartshelpline.org.

The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a culturally appropriate, domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. CDT. StrongHearts Native Helpline is a collaborative effort of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.

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