By André B. Rosay and Lauree Morton
Last month was Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Justice Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage, in collaboration with the Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, released another wave of results from the Alaska Victimization Survey.
This annual survey continues to highlight the truly horrific fact that about half adult women in Alaska have experienced intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or both — at some point in their lives. What is even more troubling is that we know that these estimates are conservative because of the limitations under which the survey had to be conducted.
This year, we surveyed adult women in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Sitka and Kodiak. In all three regions, we again found shockingly high rates of violence against women.
In the YK Delta, 51 percent of adult women experienced intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or both in their lifetimes. In Kodiak, it was 44 percent of adult women. In Sitka, it was 47 percent. That’s about half the women we know; our sisters, mothers, neighbors and co-workers. These are the people we see at the grocery store and sit next to in church. These statistics are horrendous — and none of them are acceptable.
During the Thanksgiving season, we want to take time to thank every woman in Alaska who has participated in this survey. Because of your courage, we know more about the impact of violence and are better prepared to respond to and prevent it across Alaska. We hope you can return to safety and find a path to healing.
Please know that we are committed to sharing your stories to improve policy and practice to reduce violence against all Alaska women. It is our mission. We dedicate ourselves to never forget your voices and ask each Alaskan to do the same.
We hope all women will be safe this holiday season, as well as every season after that. We also want to make sure that every girl, boy, woman and man in Alaska knows we have some of the very best victim advocacy services available— and that these services are available to all of us in times of crisis. Advocates are ready to listen, offer safety planning, go with you to medical exams, law enforcement interviews and court proceedings 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Services are confidential and free of charge.
You can dial 211 for the number of your nearest shelter or rape crisis center, or go to the Council’s website at dps.alaska.gov/CDVSA/help/victims.aspx. If you would prefer to talk to someone from the national domestic violence hotline, call 1-800-799-7233.
Immigrant domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking crime victims are entitled to unique immigration protections. If you are a victim of one of these crimes, you will not be deported if you contact a local domestic violence shelter or seek medical assistance. You have the right to be safe and free from violence. For more information about the immigration options please call the Alaska Immigration Justice Project at 907-279-2457 or visit their website at akijp.org/legalassistance.html.
Thank you to every person who gives of their time and talents to help people escape the violence perpetrated against them.
We also thank each community that is not only providing needed help to people in immediate danger, but also forming strong partnerships to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault from happening in the first place. Thank you for working to create an Alaska where the norm is for everyone to be treated with dignity and respect; where violence against women is only remembered with sorrow, not practiced on a daily basis. We are thankful for each person who joins us each day acknowledging that violence is never a solution. Respect is always the right choice.
André B. Rosay is the director of the Justice Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Lauree Morton is executive director of the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
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