As part of a mission to lower Alaska's high rate of domestic violence and sexual assault, Alaskans are using a national prevention program called Green Dot to reach that goal and think outside the box.
Imagine seeing a map with a lot of red dots on them that represent domestic violence and sexual assaults that happen here in Alaska every single day -- then imagine those red dots are replaced by green dots that represent people coming up with solutions to end the epidemic, one case and one moment at a time.
“Enough is enough, not one more case -- that's bad, whether we are talking about sexual assault or domestic violence,” said Col. Keith Mallard, director of the Alaska State Troopers.
Mallard, who has been in law enforcement for close to 20 years, has investigated the cycle of violence he’s determined to stop for future generations -- but he's also experienced it firsthand, while he was growing up.
“I experienced a violent father, an abusive father,” said Mallard. “To allow our kids to grow up in a world where the chances of my little girl getting assaulted are so great, it’s just absolutely unacceptable to me.”
The 2010 Alaska Victimization Survey says 48 percent of women living in Alaska have experienced intimate partner violence, and 37 percent have experienced sexual violence -- with 59 percent experiencing one or both of those two types.
Green Dot is about a shift in thinking which involves getting the community to care enough to help out. One of its aims is training people to recognize high-risk behaviors of violence early, to prevent tragedies from even happening.
“You don’t actually have to see something high-risk for violence ,and you still have a positive role to play,” said Jennifer Sayre, who is the director of training and development for Green Dot, etc. “Whether it’s having a conversation with a friend or family member, whether it’s putting something on your signature line and posting it on your Facebook.”
Green Dot trainers say just about anyone can help, no matter the situation or person they're dealing with. They say strategies involve the three D's: directly talking to someone one-on-one, delegating by asking law enforcement or family members to help, or using distraction to settle a situation down.
“A guy saw somebody taking someone out of a party who was too drunk, and he just called and said, 'Hey, dude, your car is getting towed,' and it was just enough of a distraction to bring him down,” Sayre said.
The Green Dot concepts involve simple methods, but Mallard says they could produce powerful changes.
“As a police officer, if I never have to jump in the middle of something and pull people apart, if through our efforts if we can prevent that assault from ever happening, from that person ever having to experience that in any degree -- that's the ultimate goal,” said Mallard.
The Green Dot program is being funded by the Governor's Council of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Its pilot phase will take place in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Homer, Kenai, and Prince of Wales.
It’s designed to be a three-year project, teaching communities how to be proactive in stopping violence for good.