November 19, 2017
By Vi Waln
Statistics tell us that Native American women are sexually assaulted at a much higher rate than any other group. Assaults against Indigenous women are not limited to rape. There are countless women out there suffering from sexual harassment. In addition, too many Lakota women suffer from mental, emotional, physical and spiritual abuse inflicted by their romantic partners every single day.
Men, women and children now living on our reservations are victims of physical, mental, emotionally, sexual and spiritual abuse. Much of this abuse is rooted in intergenerational or historical trauma. The White Buffalo Calf Woman Society on the Rosebud Reservation offers services to help both male and female victims. Despite the many victims, I want to focus on men who abuse women.
Unfortunately, the majority of men have forgotten the teaching that women are sacred. Even in thought, women are to be held sacred. If you don’t understand what that means, you can look to the story passed down by our Lakota ancestors about the coming of Pte San Win (White Buffalo Calf Woman) and the Cannunpa she gifted us. In short, the story is about a man who paid with his life after having a bad thought about Pte San Win.
Women are the givers of life. In Lakota society, women own the home and nurture their families. Today, many women living on Indian reservations are financially supporting a household of people. Women also care for extended family members. Still, we continue to be abused on many levels by the men in our lives.
There are Lakota men living on our reservations who regularly display misogynistic behavior. As a result, heterosexual women must be careful when choosing a romantic partner. Women must put their own personal safety first.
When you look around our reservations, you will see many couples getting serious about one another very quickly. These couples might move in together or publicly announce an engagement soon after meeting. It isn’t healthy behavior, yet many view it as normal.
Many women who found the strength and courage to leave a violent relationship can testify to the abuse they suffered. They will tell you about how the abuser said all the right things in the courtship stage of the relationship. He may have sympathized with the woman about a serious illness, or her problems at work, or the issues she might have with children and other family members. Abusers wear the honeymoon mask well; they know how to say all the things women want to hear.
When a woman is falls in love with an abuser, she will overlook her own intuitive red flags about his behavior. She will also ignore the advice of family and friends. Women who might come to her with stories about how the man she is involved with is a violent abuser, are viewed as jealous or even spiteful. She truly believes the man has changed for the better since his last abusive relationship.
Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. He hasn’t changed. Abusers who haven’t been through a treatment or anger management program will continue to hurt their partners on many levels. He can profess to love you and still beat the heck out of you. He might even kill you.
There is a reason he was single when you met him. Single men over the age of 35, who have children with one or several women, are the type we need to stay away from.
Many women watch with heartbreak when a good friend gets romantically involved with a violent man. But we refrain from telling her the details of the violent incidents in his past because we risk bringing harm to ourselves or our family. We make a choice to allow the woman to learn for herself how abusive he can be. We also pray she is not murdered during the course of the relationship.
Ladies, please take an honest look at your relationship. Pay attention to the red flags because they are never wrong. Maybe you could ask the man you’re involved with, the real reason why he left his last 2 or 3 or 4 relationships. Watch carefully his reaction to questions about his former partners. You also need to know if he’s financially supporting his minor children. It’d be great if he had a job where he earned enough money to financially support all of his children and help you pay your bills too.
There is only one of you. You, as well as your children, have a right to be safe in your own home. Please be careful about the man you choose to be your partner.
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