It’s a number law enforcement calls alarming: there were more than 300 reported rapes in Anchorage in just the first six months of 2015. The FBI released the new crime stats Tuesday, and while the numbers have gone up, some say that doesn’t mean more crimes have been committed.


The number of reported rapes grew from 193 in the first six months of 2014 to 323 in 2015.


“It’s alarming when rates go up but it also tells us something out there is working,” said Randi Breager, the domestic violence/sexual assault coordinator for Alaska State Troopers.


She coordinates the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). SART uses an approach that allows a victim to answer questions from first responders and advocates only once, minimizing trauma and making victims more likely to seek justice.


Despite the increased numbers, “we’re not necessarily thinking more sexual assaults are occurring but hopefully just more are being reported to law enforcement,” Breager explained.


“You’re holding offenders accountable if you have reporting,” said Standing Together Against Rape (STAR) executive director Keeley Olson. “If you don’t hold offenders accountable, you have serial rapists in the community who are doing a ton of damage with nothing being done.”


The state of Alaska and advocacy groups like STAR have been working together to educate communities about preventing rape.


The Green Dot program, for example, shows bystanders what to do if they suspect a sexual assault may be happening, to “either intervene or in some way work to change the climate so that it’s not acceptable to commit sexual assaults,” said Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (CDVSA) executive director Lauree Morton.


Many of the programs target youth, teaching respect and healthy relationships.


“We just want to create a space where you wouldn’t even think about committing a sexual assault and we think that starts with young people,” Morton said. “I think that our prevention efforts are starting to work and this is the time that we really need to move forward and strengthen those efforts.”


Law enforcement officials said it’s also important to keep crime statistics in perspective. There were 323 reports of sexual assault, but multiple reports can come from one incident. Also, some of the reports may have come from incidents that happened in years past but if they were reported in 2015, they’d be counted for that year and not the year the crime actually occurred.


STAR runs a 24-hour crisis line, which can be reached by dialing 907-276-7273.