Abstract: One in Mind, Spirit and Ancestral Blood: Using Native Hawaiian Culture As a Pathway to Healing from and Accountability for Domestic Violence (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

One in Mind, Spirit and Ancestral Blood: Using Native Hawaiian Culture As a Pathway to Healing from and Accountability for Domestic Violence

Saturday, January 19, 2019: 8:00 AM
Union Square 18 Tower 3, 4th Floor (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Valli Kalei Kanuha, PhD, Assistant Dean for Field Education, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Background and Purpose: Intimate, sexual and family violence in Native, indigenous and aboriginal communities is a prevalent social problem. While structural and historical systems of gender discrimination undergird most forms of battering, sexual assault, trafficking and harassment, Native peoples share the additional, devastating experience of colonization, displacement and resultant cultural-historical trauma across centuries and tribal and national borders that contribute to the predominance of abuse and violence in our intimate relationships and families.

Despite almost five decades of organizing to address domestic, sexual and other forms of gender-based violence led by mainstream feminist organizers, the design and testing of indigenous cultural beliefs, values and traditions to address intimate violence among Native peoples in the U.S. is rare. This paper will share the methodological principles, theoretical frameworks and evaluation of a Native Hawaiian, culturally-based domestic violence intervention with Hawaiian men convicted of and Hawaiian women who have experienced intimate partner violence. The paper will highlight the significance, as well as the challenges of integrating Western research and feminist theoretical foundations with indigenous ways in design and evaluation of a culturally-based, domestic violence program.

Methods: This paper will present the outcomes from two Native Hawaiian culturally-based domestic violence group interventions that shared the same curricular foundations and structure, including cultural approaches, learning objectives, lesson plans and length of treatment. A quasi-experimental design with men mandated to batterer intervention who were randomly assigned to three intervention groups was used in Intervention #1 (Ke Ala Lokahi), in which quantitative (surveys) and qualitative (individual interview) data were collected across multiple waves. For Intervention #2 (Namelehuapono), pre-post survey and focus group data were collected with adult women participants who were survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence in their intimate relationships.

Findings: The qualitative data across both interventions show strongly positive experiences for both men and women participants. The quantitative data for Intervention #1 showed no significant differences between the three intervention groups, though changes in the positive direction were reported across attitudes, beliefs and behaviors related to abuse, Hawaiian identity and re-arrest. For Intervention #2, positive changes across measures of depression, PTSD and self-esteem were reported by women survivors.

Conclusions and Implications: The results of these interventions show that use of indigenous cultural values, beliefs and practices to address intimate violence among Native populations holds promise. However, we still lack culturally grounded and appropriate measures and methods to capture critical variables and processes that help understand how indigenous ways can contribute to holding accountable those who perpetrate and helping heal those who have survived intimate violence in the context of Native history, traditions and community norms.