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Healing Among Rural & Indigenous Women Victims of Domestic Violence: A Mixed-Methodological Analysis


Research Team

Principal Investigator: Katie M. Edwards

Co-Principal Investigators: Laura Siller

Funding Information

Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Justice—Office on Violence Against Women (OVW)

Subcontract from: University of South Dakota

Award Date: Nov 1, 2020

End Date: Oct 31, 2023


* This project is funded by a subcontract from the University of South Dakota.

Decades of research illustrates that domestic violence in the United States is endemic and causes deleterious outcomes for victims and their families. But far less is known abut the needs of rural Native American victims of domestic violence.

In South Dakota, practitioners have identified unique challenges faced by rural Native American women, including lack of safe shelter, culturally appropriate services and access to legal aid. 

This project address the critical gaps in the literature using a qualitative, participatory action methodology. Research questions include: 

  • What do Native and non-Native rural victims of DV need to heal/recover and how do these victims define healing/recovery?
  • What are the needs of Native and non-Native rural victims of DV? How do the different cross-cutting OVW programs, specifically Rural, Legal, and Transitional Housing, meet or fail to meet those needs? What other programs do they access outside of these OVW programs to meet needs? And why do women choose to seek or not seek these services?
  • Among those seeking services from one or more of the cross-cutting OVW programs, to what extent do rural victims of DV who are Native and those who are non-Native perceive them to facilitate their healing? 
Researchers will conduct longitudinal qualitative interviews with women using services provided by a domestic violence shelter in South Dakota, as well as photovoice with a subset of women. 

All research components — interview script refinement, recruitment methods, data interpretation and practice-based recommendations — will be guided by an advisory board comprised of a group of practitioners, advocates and community members, many of whom are Native American. The project is designed to give voice to a historically margined population and provide critical information regarding the extent to which VAWA-funded programs are providing trauma-informed, culturally grounded services to NA and/or rural survivors of DV.

Findings will provide much needed information that can be used to further refine and tailor services to rural and/or Native American survivors of domestic violence.

Rural Education & Communities, Academic Intervention & Learning