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State Wants Community to Step up to Combat High Domestic Violence Rates

October 01, 2013|By Corey Allen-Young | Channel 2 News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Every nine seconds a woman is abused in the United States, according to domestic violence awareness advocates.

It's an alarming rate, especially in Alaska, which has the highest rates per capita.

On Tuesday, state leaders gathered at the Wilda Marston Theatre for the opening of domestic violence awareness month.

It's a voice that rarely comes forward; the voice of an abused woman who fears that leaving or talking about what's happening puts her family in danger.

"If a victim is in an unsafe situation she's definitely not going to be able to do it," said Suzi Pearson, who is the executive director for Abused Women's In Aid Crisis (AWAIC).

In Alaska, odds are that abused woman is somebody you know. The latest numbers come from the 2010 Alaska Victimization Survey that showed 48 out of 100 Alaskan women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

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"In the last couple of years, the number of people that our legal advocates have seen has grown by a 100 percent, so it [has] doubled in the number of people we have helped with protective orders," said Pearson.

It's a reason the state continues to push the Choose Respect campaign, not just in talking about the epidemic, but actually doing something to stop it from even happening.

The state says efforts are being made with more prevention and intervention, even through a new dashboard system that tracks domestic violence rates.

"In order for us to truly turn the curve and reduce those significant rates, we have to have everybody involved so that means community members, individuals," said Katie TePas, who is the special assistant to Governor Parnell.

Alaska State Trooper Colonel Keith Mallard, who grew up with an abusive father, says he made positive choices that changed the outcome of his life to become a good man, husband and father.

"If I can stand up and say that's not okay," said Mallard, who wants everyone to share in the responsibility to make sure no one has to live in fear or pain. "We realize that not everybody in our communities is going to be the person that jumps in the middle and breaks up a fight, but we all have a responsibility to act and stop turning a blind eye to this activity."

Pearson says the core of domestic violence is about choice: an abusive person chooses to use any tactic in order to control his or her partner.

Experts say with more community involvement, people will make the right choice and that message will make its way to next generation, who are the key to breaking the cycle of domestic violence.

For ways to get help for domestic violence, please click here.

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