With an increase in reports of sexual assault in Alaska, Standing Together Against Rape is also stepping up services. The organization has set a lofty goal for its annual fundraising gala as a result.

STAR provides support services for survivors of sexual assault and educational outreach; it aims to raise $150,000 at the masquerade-themed event on Saturday. 

Last year, STAR responded to more than 5,000 calls on its crisis line, and its sexual assault response team was called out 322 times.

Development Manager Jennifer Brown said one-on-one visits in the office increased 70% in 2018.

"We are just trying to keep up with the increase in demand for services," Brown said.

She added that STAR offers comprehensive services, so the donations it gets from the gala are crucial. "We don't always have funding to cover everything that's needed. Our direct services, advocates work very hard with clients to make sure that they're safe and on their healing journey, and sometimes that takes more than what a grant will cover."

The FBI's 2018 Uniform Crime Report shows an 11% increase in the rate of reported rapes in Alaska from 2017 to 2018. And Alaska State Troopers report a 15% increase in sexual assault reports last year. 

Brown says part of the increase could be that more survivors are comfortable making a report. 

"This has been in the news so much the last two years that people are seeing celebrities and athletes stand up for themselves and say, 'This happened, and this is not okay,'" Brown said. 

In an on-air poll Friday, Daybreak asked viewers whether they feel safe in Anchorage, and 76% of respondents said, 'No.'

"I really believe that our prevention team is where it's at," Brown said. "Because they're teaching kids at a very young age how to keep themselves safe and how to act appropriately around others."

The 2019 STAR Masquerade Ball takes place at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Hilton Anchorage hotel. 

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