Poll finds baseline stats for domestic violence in Alaska

48% Women harmed or threatened by a partner at some point during their lives37% Women sexually victimized at some point during their lives

Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2011

JUNEAU — A survey intended to provide a baseline for domestic violence and sexual assault rates in Alaska has found nearly 48 percent of women have been threatened or physically harmed by a partner during their lifetime.

The survey, commissioned by a legislative committee and being presented to lawmakers Monday, also finds 37.1 percent of woman polled had been sexually victimized at some point during their lives.

But it has holes: The survey of 871 women, being released by the University of Alaska-Anchorage Justice Center, only involved English-speaking adults, with at least one phone in their household. The report notes rates of violence “may be significantly higher” among those not interviewed — including non-English speakers and women in prison or shelters.

The report also notes the continued stigma with reporting violence and calls the findings conservative.

Gov. Sean Parnell has made cracking down on what he calls the scourge of domestic violence and sexual assault a centerpiece of his legislative agenda — calling on Alaskans to speak out, take away the stigma. So-called “Choose Respect” rallies, which Parnell helped lead in Juneau last year, are slated for communities around the state March 31.

Last year, the Legislature passed a suite of measures aimed at addressing the problem, including funding that Parnell said put village public safety officers in communities that did not have any law enforcement presence and what he called greater access to counseling services and shelters for abused women.

The governor is seeking funding for 15 additional officers for the next fiscal year.

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