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Downtown Anchorage march and rally held to support victims of rape and sexual assault

Posted: April 23, 2011 - 9:41pm

ANCHORAGE — Alaska’s rate of sexual assault is more than 2.5 times the national average. With that in mind, residents took to the streets Thursday night in downtown Anchorage in an annual event known as “Take Back The Night” to send sexual predators a message: Rape and sexual assault will not be tolerated.

Erin Patterson with Standing Together Against Rape, also known as STAR, told KTUU-TV that the rally and march is a safe place for survivors of sexual assault and rape to share their experiences.

“We need to be thankful that we have a population of survivors who are willing to speak out,” she said.

Over the years, “Take Back the Night” has attracted more volunteers and participants, Patterson said.

“This year we have people donating tables and chairs, coffee and hot dogs — even the sound system. All the musicians are donating their time,” Patterson said. “People are coming with the intention of supporting this message of safety and awareness. We all know that everyone has a role in this fight.”

Patterson said the success of Gov. Sean Parnell’s “Choose Respect” campaign against sexual violence was recognized as well at this year’s “Green Light Project,” an educational program about sexual consent targeted at young males.

Parnell has made ending the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault within a generation one of the goals of his administration. On March 31, more than 50 Alaska communities held rallies as part of a “Choose Respect” campaign announced last year. The campaign also has involved funding to put more village public safety officers in communities that did not have a law enforcement presence, and increasing access to counseling and legal services as well as shelters for abused women.

The 10-year-campaign aims at lowering Alaska’s rate of sexual assault, perennially ranked among the top per capita in the nation. A survey commissioned by a legislative committee and released earlier this year found that nearly half of all Alaska women have been threatened or physically harmed by a partner during their lifetime. About 37 percent of women polled said they’d been sexually victimized at some point during their lives, according to the University of Alaska-Anchorage Justice Center survey.

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