Sen. Lisa Murkowski urged Alaskans to take a stand against domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse at an event Tueday at Southcentral Foundation to mark the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“We have statistics that no one should be proud of,” said Murkowski, referring to what are consistently some of the highest rates of domestic violence in the country, including a new one that says rape in Alaska has increased to four times the national average.

“We cannot accept it. We should be sickened by it, and we should be sick and tired that we continue to lead in this area,” she added.

Murkowski said Alaska has had success in getting federal funding to help fight the problem but Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said the state needs to do more.

“The reality is that for too long we have invested too little in the infrastructure that's necessary to solve this problem,” Berkowitz said. “We haven’t done enough with law enforcement, we haven’t done enough with the public outreach. We haven’t done enough with any of the things we know make a difference in terms of reducing the rates of sexual assault and sexual violence.”

Berkowitz said Alaskans must decide whether to spend the money it would take to hire more troopers and prosecutors, saying they should use their voices and their votes to make the state a safer place.

Anchorage police chief Justin Doll, who also spoke at the event, said reports of domestic violence to Anchorage Police Department are on track to increase this year. He called it a priority for the department but said the public had a role to play as well.

Marchers against domestic violence include Governor Dunleavy

Gov. Mike Dunleavy attended the event but didn’t speak. He and his wife joined a group of people who marched around the Southcentral campus to bring awareness to domestic violence issues in the state.

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