Governor’s “Choose Respect” Campaign Continues
Parnell says he’s working to increase awareness of domestic violence
ALASKA - We have heard it many times, Alaska has the highest rates of domestic violence and sexual assault in the country. Unfortunately the numbers are not going down but there is something that is increasing, and that is awareness.
Some of the credit for that goes to Governor Sean Parnell, who has made it a goal to shed the spotlight on the violence that one study said effects almost half the women in Alaska. For the third year in a row the governor organized marches across the state with the theme of “Choose Respect.”
In Anchorage several hundred people made the march from the Delany Park Strip to Town Square. Many held signs denouncing violence against women, children and men.
“It’s important for us men,” said participant Michael Benson. “ And it's important for our children, for those of us who are parents to show it's not okay to engage in violent acts.”
But while the numbers have remained high there is hope. Suzi Pearson has headed Anchorage’s domestic violence shelter AWAIC for seventeen years. She said new laws and new funding have helped.
“To help with law enforcement to help with victims services to help with prevention and education so all of those things together have made a difference,” said Pearson.
The campaign is also helping victims speak out, including one woman who held a banner and said she’d told no one about her experience with child sexual abuse till today. Now she wants to be an advocate for the youngest victims.
“Because I don’t want to see it happening to anyone else. When children go forward and go to some one they trust I hope they keep going till someone they trust stops it.”
Thursday’s ceremony also honored three people who stopped a sexual assault in progress with a very clear message: Anyone can take a stand against violence and possibly make a difference for us all.