Violence against women is a major issue on American Indian reservations.
To combat the problem, U.S. Attorneys in North and South Dakota have signed an agreement with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe to hire a special prosecutor, dedicated to solely focusing on such abuse cases.
Native women suffer domestic violence, assault, numbers far exceeding the general population." says U.S. Attorney, Tim Purdon.
The role of a new special prosecutor is black and white, but fighting against domestic violence on the reservation can be a gray area.
With a long history of abuse, most parties agree there's a need to stop the cycle.
"A Native American female baby has a 1 in 3 chance of being sexually assaulted in their lifetime." says Purdon.
"The majority of women who are sexually assaulted don't ever report, so that statistic is actually probably much harder." says Jennifer Old Rock, AARC primary advocate in Ft. Yates.
Advocates with the Abused Adult Resource Center say like everywhere, the more the population grows, the more the amount of crime grows.
"I've seen it all the past few years, women being beaten horribly, to the point where they're on life support to women even murdering their abusers in retaliation." says Old Rock.
"They've seen their mothers, grandmothers survive this, makes them realize they need to talk and report about, it's affecting everyone around them." says Mary Adams/Rural Outreach Program Coordinator with the AARC.
Rural areas especially struggle without as many resources, but a special prosecutor is just one step to stamping out the violence.
"This prosecutor will be able to prosecute these cases in tribal court and federal court..." says Purdon.
"Having that special prosecutor hopefully going to get the court cases through the system faster, get justice out for the survivors." says Adams.
"This prosecutor will be able to go into the U.S. attorneys office in North Dakota as well as South Dakota, so it will have enormous impact." says Brendan Johnson U.S. Attorney/South Dakota.
"Whatever woman I help today, even if she didn't leave, she knows now there's help out there, and when she decides to leave, believes her and will help her." says Jennifer Old Rock.
The memorandum of understanding signed Tuesday agrees to hire the special prosecutor with around a 450-thousand dollar grant, paid for by the U.S. Justice Department.
If you know someone who is suffering from domestic violence, you can reach out to the abused adult resource center.