Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Reversing Sexual Assault Statistics Is About Attitude, Social Workers Say
Sexual assault rates steady in past decade
ANCHORAGE—Over the last decade, reports of sexual assault across Alaska have remained constant, and this year the numbers continue to increase rather than decrease.
The Anchorage Police Department has received 176 reports of sexual assault so this year, compared to 253 reports in 2010—but police note that they expect to receive more cases in the next four months, before the year is over.
The highest reported cases of sexual assault were in 2009 with 265 victims.
“We’re fighting an uphill battle with attitudes from Hollywood, the entertainment industry, they seem to put out the idea that this kind of thing is somehow acceptable,” said Anchorage police spokesperson Lt. Dave Parker.
The numbers exclude victims who are homeless, in a shelter, or behind bars. It also leaves out non-English speaking people.
“We know that there's lot of victims, male and female, that aren’t reporting, aren’t calling,” said Erin Patterson, an advocate with Standing Together Against Rape (STAR).
She says because not everyone reports the sexual assaults, there isn’t a clear picture on exactly how many victims are out in the community.
Advocates say the community needs to also help victims, rather than blame them.
“I think until victims feel like they're going to be supported and believed by community, there’s always going to be hesitation to come forward and make a report to the police,” said Patterson.
STAR advocates say in order to fight the staggering statistics, Alaskans need to change the way they think about relationships.
“We’ve got to start talking to kids at 2 and 3 years old about the way that they perceive gender differences, equality, and respecting each other and respecting there bodies,” Patterson said.
According to STAR, the state spends more than $9 million every year for victim services.