I took part in the Take Back the Night march and rally last month. The energy was high as we marched down the Capitol steps to Centennial Hall, where we all gathered. Gail Perez, women's advocate from Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies, as well as Saralyn Tabachnick, executive director of AWARE, spoke powerfully as the women and men gathered. Gov. Murkowski signed into law Senate Bill 218, which raises the minimum sentence for sexual assault from eight years to 25 years. Nevertheless, he then went on to stump for his marijuana bill, saying marijuana had a large part in domestic violence and rapes.
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I worked as a women's advocate in the '90's at AWARE and have been a victim of domestic violence myself. In no way do I condone any type of drug use, but I do know that the No. 1 drug associated with domestic violence and rape is alcohol.
My point is that Gov. Murkowski used this rally to advance his own political agenda - a bill which ties marijuana use with methamphetamine use (ha, ha) - which I thought was totally inappropriate. His wife, Nancy, stood and said that the "grown women" could take care of themselves, but what matters is the children. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the dynamics of abuser-abused woman-abused children (by direct means or not). Very often, "grown women" (for many various reasons, including economic and social) cannot take care of themselves and need help and understanding. Rape and domestic violence often go unreported due to fear of retribution - that if the victim presses charges, she will be in greater danger than if she just stayed and "took it" and kept quiet. This is something the police need to know, understand and take into account when dealing with domestic violence victims.
If the governor had stayed and listened to the very moving stories from several brave young women, then maybe I'd believe that he even cared. Because once the big show was over for him, the healing truly began. But he left. Thank you for the legislators who went from start to finish and who listened.