What sort of world do you want to live in?

By Sierra Frost

Upon reading about the dismissal of the sexual assault case of September 2012 involving several teens and young adults in our community, I was heartbroken and horrified. The message sent is that, as a community, we will be idle and quiet about domestic violence.
All of us are important individuals deserving of safety and support when our rights and bodies are violated. This dismissal sends the opposite message.
While Homer has great strengths in diversity of lifestyles, creative and entrepreneurial endeavors and access to nature’s beauty, one weakness embedded here is now a glaring truth: We have failed at guaranteeing safety for each of us in our community; it cannot be attainable without all of us working toward it. The truth is, we are all responsible for this failure and for how we respond, because we all call Homer our home.
Currently, we reside in the comfort of the saying, “Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t feel.” This is a blind and lazy option. It supports manipulative cycles of abuse and victim mentality that we can never take responsibility for our own healing; to tell the truth and seek help.
When I was a child, my father used to tell me, “Sierra, you can’t save everyone.” I thought this was quite pessimistic, and continued to designate myself as the heroine of the world. As an adult, I have learned that — in fact — the only person I can save is myself. However, sharing my experience has allowed me to shed light for others on how to help themselves or seek refuge in the resources that surround us.
As a child growing up in Homer, I was chronically sexually abused for most of my childhood. I did not feel comfortable telling the truth. I felt guilty, ashamed, unsafe and scared. I can’t recall a time when I was taught how to recognize when I was being violated, or what I could do to reach out while feeling like I was supported and safe. Fifteen years later, I have chosen to press charges for this abuse and I — much like the survivor of the 2012 case — am still waiting for our justice system to serve me. This is not a new issue for Homer, but it is a timely opportunity for us to work for change.
Let me be clear about what this isn’t: It isn’t about searching out and blaming any individuals for these atrocities. This isn’t even about the “whys” and “hows” of our justice system not working. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, sexual assault has decreased by more than 50 percent in recent years. Still, every two minutes in the U.S., someone is sexually assaulted.
And this is just reported victims over the age of 12. It is not feasible for us to continue to rely solely on our justice system to provide a solution to this vast issue. This is about taking responsibility to seek out and act on solutions as a community; to work toward a cultural shift. This is a call for action.
In Wonder Woman No. 170, our heroine states, “If the prospect of living in a world where trying to respect the basic rights of those around you and valuing each other simply because we exist are such daunting, impossible tasks, then what sort of world are we left with? And what sort of world do you want to live in?”
I see compassion in action all over Homer, everyday. We buy coffee for the person behind us in line, help our neighbors change flat tires, donate food to our local pantry. We choose to buy our clothes from the thrift store that benefits women’s services. Collectively, our thoughts and actions are in the right place.
When we come to standing up for nonviolence, it becomes more difficult. It is uncomfortable, scary and hard to know how to intervene. However, we can learn. There is hope for a better future for us, our community and our youth.
I have some ideas and resources on how to teach skills on standing up and speaking out about violence. I’m looking for more input, energy and people. If you are interested in taking action to help make Homer a violence-informed and active community that stands up for the rights of every individual, please contact me via phone or text at 399-3341, or email sierra.smith@gmail.com. I look forward to talking with you.
Remember, superheroes only moonlight in their costumes. By day, they are the journalists, attorneys, scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers, nurses and artists. Homer is full of them. Open your closets and dust off your capes, my friends. What sort of world do you want to live in?

Sierra Frost is a longtime Homer resident.

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Posted by on Aug 19th, 2014 and filed under Point of View. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

6 Responses for “What sort of world do you want to live in?”

  1. thank you says:

    I agree we must act with or without the justice system, however, what is the point of teaching people to speak out if the justice system ignores criminal behavior. It is only more depressing to pursue justice and watch criminals get away with it.

  2. Suzan Huber says:

    The youth today live under the false impression that it’s not cool to tell on someone, as in ‘narc.’ If you were at this party, and witnessed this, and do nothing, you are as guilty as the ones who took part in the criminal act. You have no integrity, but you will have to live with what you took part in (even if you are just a witness). As for those that did this, shame on them for not admitting that they did it, as a dumb drunk prank. Now you are being thought of as perverts.

  3. do we have a choice? says:

    There is something terribly wrong with the justice system and we need to hold those people accountable.

    The same BS just happened again.

    State drops sex assault charges against Alaska Regional Hospital security guard

    “Anchorage police investigated the alleged sex assault, and the city’s district attorney’s office initially determined there was probable cause based on the evidence.

    However, after reviewing new evidence from a subsequent investigation, the prosecutors “concluded that in light of all available evidence, there exists substantial doubt as to what occurred on the night in question,” according to a district attorney’s office news release.

    Since when is a trial thrown out because they do not know the whole truth. The trial is supposed to reveal the truth.

    Our lack of justice system is creating a very unsafe unhealthy environment for everyone. Now a person can’t even go to the doctor without being raped and having the charges thrown out.

  4. jon says:

    important article to read in paper today

    “Alaska’s epidemic of sexual assault has got to stop”

  5. Fight for our rights says:

    The state has gone too far to do absolutely nothing to protect victims of sexual assault.

    After this, we can assume that the state is purposely protecting perpetrators who are even abusing their power as a probation officers, demanding sex or he will take your children, and the state still does nothing.

    Choose Respect My Arse!

    please see
    Lawsuit against fired probation officer claims sexual abuse, state complacency

    Each of the 14 women suing their former state of Alaska probation officer has a story about the moment visits to James Stanton’s basement office at the downtown courthouse turned bad.

    In some cases, Stanton pressured women for sexual favors or cash in exchange for allowing his clients to use drugs or miss court dates, the lawsuits assert. In others he is alleged to have threatened to lie about women who were abiding by the rules of the program, according to the suits.

    Stanton, 57, has not been convicted of a sex offense in criminal court.

    In 2010, he was arrested on criminal coercion, harassment and sexual assault charges after he was caught taking money from a female probationer who wore a wire for police. Anchorage police said at the time that Stanton first fondled the woman in his office. She then told him she’d rather pay him than have sex with him and gave him $200, which was later found on his desk.

    In 2012, an Anchorage judge dismissed the sexual assault charges, saying if the women agreed to sex to avoid or hide drug tests the acts were, by law, consensual.

  6. Jo says:

    Parnell and the Alaska legislature pass law to protect rapists

    Turns out this problem of ignoring rape is systemic as two more stories came out this week “State drops sex assault charges against Alaska Regional Hospital security guard” who was seen on video taking a girl in the back room for a strip search which was not his job, and 14 women have had to file their own lawsuit to hold a probabation officer accountable who had threatened to take their children if they did not have sex with him, caught on audio when one woman wore a wire “Lawsuit against fired probation officer claims sexual abuse, state complacency”

    What is going on is a huge Orwellian joke with Parnell’s “choose respect” campaign as already evidenced by his ignoring the national guard rapes.

    Now, just to drive the knife in further, Parnell and the legislature have passed a law to make sure that the perpetrators crimes are covered up completely

    “Parnell set to act on bill to make thousands of court records confidential”

    Parnell’s campaign is more aptly named “choose injustice” while he supports rapists and laughs at us.

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