What to Tell Your Daughter When She’s Raped

Mary Annette Pember

Charon Asetoyer, CEO of the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center, (NAWHERC) vividly recalls the afternoon a Native mother visited her office and asked her what she should say to her teen daughter when she gets raped.

“She didn’t use the word “if,” she used the word “when,” because our women, especially young women have the highest rates of sexual assault of any ethnicity in the country,” Asetoyer said.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Justice, Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other groups.

“I can’t even put into words how awful hearing this made me feel,” Asetoyer recalls.

Asetoyer and her colleagues at NAWHERC located in Lake Andes, South Dakota decided to take action and created a handbook, “What to Do When You Are Raped; An ABC Handbook for Native Girls.”

“Due to complicated issues related to jurisdiction, most often there is not an arrest made of the perpetrator. Therefore, Native American women are denied protection and due process of the law. On federal lands it is the responsibility of the federal government to handle these crimes. We can no longer wait for the government to decide if and when they are going to live up to their responsibility. As a community response, one of the things we can do is assist our relatives who have been harmed and to help them with the healing process. It is important for a person that has been sexually assaulted to know that they are not alone and that there is always somewhere to turn to for help. The sooner you tell someone what has happened to you the sooner you will begin to realize that you are not alone and that you have support in dealing with the assault,” Asetoyer said.

The booklet explains, for instance, that Native women and girls are entitled to receive Plan B emergency contraception from any pharmacy including Indian Health Service pharmacies without any restrictions.

Most importantly, the booklet informs women and girls that assault is not their fault, they didn’t’ deserve it and offers a list of resources.

The booklet is available via download or by contacting NAWHERC.

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turbojesus's picture
Submitted by turbojesus on
Justice is the right of the strong. The strong take they want while the weak suffer what they must. If only we had been born after this age or died before it, where there was no rule of law to defend those that have the strength.

Debbie Barron
Debbie Barron
Submitted by Debbie Barron on
At thirteen years old, I was a victim. My world came crashing down three times. Twice when raped, once when I finally told who raped me and I heard, "Debbie, don't lie, he would never do that!" Being supported and believed is of utmost importance in the self-esteem of a victim. I beg all those who know and love their daughters, grand-daughters, and nieces to believe their words. It take tremendous courage to finally come forward and reveal what happened. The shame they feel is huge. Most of that shame is indoctrinated in them from the perpetrator. It is his way of controlling her. The younger she is, the easier she is to control. He will tell her she is dirty. If she tells anyone no one will believe her. She will be called "bad" names. She will be sent off to the bad girls school. Your Mom/Dad will hate you. To a young, naive, impressionable girl, this is frightening. She will take his abuse and say nothing. This happened to me and numerous others I have talked to over the years. We teach our children to respect our elders, but there are some 'elders' out there who take advantage of that in a very harmful way. Until we identify them and either remove them from our society or are able to monitor their activities, we are left to pick up the broken pieces that was once the innocence of youth. Debbie B. Minden, NV