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Counseling and Faith-Based Services for Crime Victims in Indian Country

The high rate of crime in AI/AN communities and villages is reflected in numerous studies, demonstrating the need for victim assistance programs to help victims cope with and heal from crime. Many rural, remote AI/AN communities are impoverished, isolated, and lack victim assistance services.

Crime victims, like others in crisis, turn to spiritual leaders for support in times of need. When violence is experienced, religious or spiritual questions are often raised. Although members of the clergy, spiritual leaders, and traditional healers are often experienced with issues arising from a range of social justice problems, they are frequently not familiar with the particular dynamics of crime victimization. In contrast, victim assistance programs possess the knowledge and practical resources necessary to respond to the immediate needs of crime victims. They may not be well-equipped, however, to address the profound spiritual crisis that may be brought on by a criminal act.

This program aids AI/AN communities by establishing and improving the partnership between faith-based organizations, spiritual leaders, traditional healers, and victim service programs as well as by developing Best Practices/Successful Strategies that can be replicated in other underserved communities. Counseling services should be made available to all victims, regardless of faith or religious belief. OVC supports projects that address the needs of unserved and underserved victims, particularly those victimized by crimes such as child abuse, sexual assault, homicide, elder abuse, driving while intoxicated, and gang violence.

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