• Overcast, light rain
  • 54°
    Overcast, light rain
  • Comment

My Turn: Together, we stand for respect

Posted: March 22, 2014 - 11:04pm

Respect is a traditional value at the core of nearly every ethnic and religious group; a cherished principle that has stood the test of time.

As important as respect is in creating safe homes and strong families, domestic violence and sexual assault have the opposite effect, destroying both families and communities.

These crimes are most damaging at the personal level, where they leave emotional and physical scars that often last a lifetime.

Here in Alaska, we see the destruction firsthand — but we’re doing something about it. Across the state, Alaskans are standing up, shining a light, and making change a reality.

On March 27, I am joining thousands of Alaskans in more than 160 communities to stand up on behalf of victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. I hope you’ll join us.

In Juneau, Alaskans will gather at the Capitol building for a march to Marine Park. In other communities there will be marches, rallies, and potluck meals. You can locate your nearest event at

Alaskans will raise high the banner of respect, lending courage to those who need it, and empowering fellow Alaskans to speak out. Courageous Alaskans are speaking out about things that have happened to them, and by doing so, are giving courage to those who have held close their own injuries at the hands of others who should have protected them.

This past year, I read an essay that an Alaska teenager posted on her blog about the abuse she had suffered as a child:

“... None of the adults knew why we ran past his room as fast as we could or didn’t want to be left with him babysitting us. It seemed like each of us knew what was going on, but we never talked about our little secret. Finally, one day, I found the courage to tell my mom, and it was the best thing I’ve ever done.

“He was convicted and spent a few years in jail and in a sexual abuse treatment center to get help. It turns out, he was abused himself. But the cycle of abuse has stopped with me and my family. We chose to fight it, talk about it, and use it to help as many people as we can.

“I know many, many of you have had experience with this, and I just want to encourage you today.

“First of all, you need to know that no matter what, it isn’t your fault. You may be a victim now, but God turns victims into victory and it starts with telling someone.

“It’s terrifying to think of what can happen, but as my sister says, ‘when every answer seems like a ‘lose-lose’ situation, you just have to choose the right thing.’

“I can’t imagine where I’d be if I never said anything!”

So many truths are found in this teen’s words.

• Silence allows the abuse to continue.

• Courageously telling someone who can help is a critical first step.

• To the victims and survivors — it isn’t your fault. That shame you feel is not rightly yours.

That’s why we gather with thousands of our fellow Alaskans across the state. We will not be silent, and we will not hide things. No longer can we give this cancer of domestic violence and sexual assault power over us.

We stand to give our courage and compassion to those who need it most.

Together, we stand for respect and human dignity. We stake our claim that every Alaskan deserves to live free from fear, free from the harmful control and manipulation of others.

And so on March 27, this army of Alaskans says to the victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, “We are stepping up. We will help. As Alaskans, we ‘Choose Respect.’”

Find out more and get involved by checking the latest news at:

• Sean Parnell is governor of Alaska.

  • Comment

Comments (1) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Dot Wilson
Dot Wilson 03/23/14 - 09:37 am
Both the Governor and Mrs Parnell

have been committed to this cause for all the years I have known them. Having been raised in a time and place where sexual abuse was not a word I understood, I was horrified to learn in my 50's that a friend of over 35 years had been subjected to sexual abuse by her father. It did show in her personal behavior, not the least of which was she always needed close personal attention from men. She did not feel she was worthwhile unless she had someone begging for her sexual favors. If she had no current boyfriend and was walking down the street and received a "friendly" greeting, she thought her day was a success. It took many years for her to understand the difference between love and sexual abuse. Although I knew her actions were not normal when we were younger, until publicity about behavior of sexually abused children started, it was not even in my vision. First time I saw information about it, it described my friend in detail. I eventually asked her and she said her dad had abused her for years but her mom didn't know what to do about it.

Now I see young girls being exploited by their parents (some even at toddler age), in dress and by encouraging them to flirt with adults. It is frightening because I believe child sexual abuse is increasing, not decreasing. If we can teach more young mothers & fathers, and potential mothers and fathers about age-appropriate training and behavior of their children, maybe that will be more helpful to their mental health than teaching 10 year olds how to wear condoms and take birth control pills.

Back to Top


  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback