• May 2015
  • Vol. 16, No. 4

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Healing Child Sexual Abuse in Tribal Communities

A recent article in the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children's (APSAC's) news journal APSAC Advisor shares information on Pathway to Hope (PTH), an indigenous approach to guiding the process of community awareness, acceptance, and healing from child sexual abuse. Developed by and for Alaska Native communities, the PTH curriculum can be adapted to the specific needs, culture, and practices of the Native communities in which it is implemented, and it has been adapted and implemented in several American Indian and Canadian indigenous communities.

PTH faculty from outside the community conduct a 3-day training for community facilitators composed of key individuals from within the Tribe, who then adapt the PTH agenda and activities to meet their specific community's needs. Participants in the training session receive the Pathway to Hope: Healing Child Sexual Abuse video and accompanying step-by-step Tribal Community Facilitator Video Guidebook. Participants often include trusted elders, spiritual leaders, and young people interested in community change, as well as non-Native community leaders (e.g., law enforcement representatives, local or State child protection workers, behavioral health clinicians, clergy).

The internal origin of the PTH curriculum helps Tribal and indigenous communities to not only recognize and heal child sexual abuse survivors, but also promote greater interaction among associated Tribal programs and agencies and facilitate the creation of collective action steps to support survivors and prevent future instances of abuse. The U.S. Department of Justice's Office for Victims of Crime funded the initial development and delivery of PTH. Since 2010, participating Tribes and organizations have funded their own training expenses, with some exceptions.

Learn more about PTH in "Pathway to Hope: A Tribal Community-Based Empowerment Curriculum to Heal Child Sexual Abuse," by D. Payne, APSAC Advisor, 1, 2014, available at http://www.tribal-institute.org/2014/E8-HO.pdf (289 KB).

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