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In a 2006 study, 96% of American Indian respondents who had been a victim of rape or sexual assault had experienced other physical abuse as well.

Sexual violence against Indigenous women is the result of a number of factors and continues a history of widespread human rights abuses against Indigenous peoples in the USA. Historically, Indigenous women were raped by settlers and soldiers, including during the Trail of Tears and the Long Walk. Such attacks were not random or individual; they were tools of conquest and colonization. The attitudes towards Indigenous peoples that underpin such human rights abuses continue to be present in in the USA today. They contribute to the present high rates of sexual violence perpetrated against Indigenous women and help to shield their attackers from justice. They also reflect a broader societal norm that devalues women and girls and creates power dynamics that enable sexual violence against women of all backgrounds.

Amnesty International

Image by Taylor Ruecker


The following statistics are provided by Futures Without Violence


  • American Indian women residing on Indian reservations suffer domestic violence and physical assault at rates far exceeding women of other ethnicities and The Facts on Violence Against American Indian/Alaskan Native Women locations. A 2004 Department of Justice report estimates these assault rates to be as much as 50% higher than the next most victimized demographic.

  • National annual incidence rates and lifetime prevalence rates for physical assaults are also higher for American Indian and Alaskan Native women compared to other women.

  • In a 2008 CDC study, 39% of Native women surveyed identified as victims of intimate partner violence in their lifetime, a rate higher than any other race or ethnicity surveyed. 4 This finding has been common over the years. A study from 1998 that utilized a large national probability sample (n=8000) found that American Indian/Alaskan Native American women were the most likely racial group to report a physical assault by an intimate partner.

  • According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs at least 70% of the violent victimizations experienced by American Indians are committed by persons not of the same race— a substantially higher rate of interracial violence than experienced by white or black victims.

  • In a 2006 study, 96% of American Indian respondents who had been a victim of rape or sexual assault had experienced other physical abuse as well.

  • During a physical assault, American Indian and Alaska Native women were more likely to be injured than women of all other groups and more of these injuries needed medical care.

  • Violence against Indian women occurs as a gauntlet in the lives of Indian women: at one end verbal abuse and at the other murder. Most Indian women do not report such crimes because of the belief that nothing will be done.


  • Federal government studies have consistently shown that American Indian women experience much higher levels of sexual violence than other women in the U.S. Data gathered by the U.S. Department of Justice indicates that Native American and Alaskan Native women are more than 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the USA in general (5 vs. 2 per 1,000).

  • Additionally, 34% or more than one in three Native women will be raped during their lifetime, whereas for women as a whole the risk is less than one in five.

  • A 2004 study that examined intimate partner rape among American Indian women found that one in five respondents (20.9%) reported they had been a victim of at least one incident in their lifetime.


  • 17 percent of Native American and Alaskan Native women have been stalked in their lifetime.


The abuse of Indian women and children can be traced to the introduction of unnatural life ways into Native culture. Scholars support this idea and suggest that violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women directly relates to historical victimization. According to proponents of this idea, domination and oppression of native peoples increased both economic deprivation and dependency through retracting tribal rights and sovereignty. Consequently, American Indian and Alaska Natives today are believed to suffer from internalized oppression and the normalization of violence.



Amnesty International

National Congress of American Indians

The StrongHearts Native Helpline (844.762.8483) is a culturally-appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT.

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