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Reducing the Stigma and Shame of Sexual Assault in American Indian/Alaska Native Communities Transcript

WOMAN: Good morning. Hihanni waste cheechapy. We're listening here at KILI Radio 90.1 Porcupine. We've got a show coming up with Four Directions with Evie and Misty to talk about women's issues.

MISTY HUNTER, RN, IHS FOUR DIRECTIONS CLINIC: I think we do a very good at that.

WOMAN: Yeah.

MISTY HUNTER: Bringing all the partners together. I feel like if you talk about sexual assault, people are gonna talk back to you. When I go on the radio, they'll come to me and start telling me their stories. As soon as I got back from KILI radio I had a patient come in and she said, "I just need to talk to you." Most victims always feel shame naturally because of the trauma that happened to them. They feel like maybe it was their fault. And when people don't believe them, it brings that shame out even more and it becomes a barrier to their care.

When we set up Four Directions Clinic we didn't want a stigma like, well, that's a sexual assault building. We didn't want that. We wanted people to be able to come here freely—come and go without judgment. So we set up our clinic as a women's health clinic, as a HIV clinic. We set up a computer in our lobby for people to do research, to apply for jobs, to be here at Four Directions Clinic for any kind of reason. When we meet people and we tell them about our clinic, they're like, "We want that in our community." That's exciting to me.

WOMAN: Yeah.

MISTY HUNTER: Because I wish every community could have a clinic like this to provide this kind of care. I think there's a lot more victims out there that aren't reporting because of the stigma that goes along with it. Or there's fear—fear of reporting a sexual assault— because sometimes their perpetrators are the people they live with. Sometimes they are the person that's financing their whole life. And if we keep talking about it, and the community realizes this isn't going away and this isn't right, hopefully that will reduce some of that victim blaming and that stigma that goes along with it.

When I look at communities I think it has to start somewhere. So if you build those teams, it just gets stronger from there, because sexual assault's not going away. We have to find a way to provide the best care we can for victims and their families so that they can heal.