Domestic violence numbers an eye opener

If you’re a woman living on the Kenai Peninsula, you have a more than 50 percent chance of being a victim of domestic or sexual violence in your lifetime.

That statistic — 52 percent — comes from the 2013 Alaska Victimization Study conducted by the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center and the state Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. It is based on surveys conducted with adult women living in the borough. Justice Center director Andre Rosay called the survey results “troubling,” and an indication of “unacceptable levels everywhere.”

Even more disturbing is that the numbers are conservative, as some groups of women at risk were not able to participate in the survey.

Other statistics corroborate the results of the study. According to a Clarion report, Cheri Smith, executive director of the LeeShore Center, numbers of walk-ins and women and children living at the shelter have remained steady, while crisis calls have nearly doubled over the past year.

And a look at the local police reports shows multiple domestic violence responses in any given week.

As Rosay said, the numbers should be unacceptable to our community. Smith noted progress has been made simply in the acknowledgement that the issue is significant and needs attention, something she said wasn’t the case just a few years ago.

With awareness raised, the next steps are education and prevention, Smith said. Locally, the Green Dot Etc. program is being implemented, which encourages bystanders to take a roll in preventing potentially violent situations. Statewide, the issue continues to be a public safety priority for Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration.

Progress is being made, but as the numbers show, there is still a long way to go. Greater strides can only be made with the support of the community as a whole, from government to law enforcement to support agencies to individuals.

But continued progress on the issue is crucial to the well being of our community — because with more than half of women on the Peninsula subjected to violence or abuse, clearly it is an issue that at some point, in some way, will affect us all.

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