Peninsula recognizes Domestic Violence Month

Alaskans face harrowing domestic violence statistics.

About half of adult women in Alaska have experienced violence in their lifetimes, according to University of Alaska Justice Center’s 2015 victimization survey.

In the face of these statistics, October is recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month throughout the state, and at a local level.

At their upcoming council meetings, Soldotna and Kenai’s mayors will issue proclamations to recognize October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The joint proclamation states that the month will be recognized in the cities of Kenai and Soldotna and “encourage all citizens to dedicate themselves to learning about reducing domestic violence and violence against women, and encourage all to support the domestic violence programs in the communities, including the LeeShore Center.”

At a state level, Gov. Bill Walker is also urging all Alaskans to “stand together against domestic violence.”

According to the governor’s statement, about 3,600 people have volunteered over 63,000 hours of time to victim service agencies last year, supporting survivors of domestic violence, adults and children.

“There is always some that will answer the phone,” said Barbara Waters of the LeeShore Center, an organization that provides services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault on the central peninsula. The organization staffs a crisis phone line that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The number is (907) 283-7257.

“We also take walk-ins,” Waters said. “So, people can come in and speak to an advocate during business hours and we have a legal advocate at the court house who is there whenever the courthouse is open.”

Waters said that their location on Spruce Street in Kenai is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday for anybody who needs help.

“We help both men and women through walk-ins,” Waters said. “It’s for whoever needs the help. We also have a childcare assistance program.”

At the beginning of October, the LeeShore Center held a community awareness workshop, focusing on domestic violence and sexual assault. The conference discussed the effects of domestic violence on children and brought together people from across the community to discuss the impact domestic violence has on the Kenai Peninsula and beyond.

“It left everybody with the admonition … to go out into the community and to call out domestic violence when they see it and hopefully that will help,” Waters said.

The Alaska Victimization Survey has shown a decline in the the numbers of women who face intimate partner violence, by 32 percent from 2010 to 2015, but Walker urged in his proclamation that there is more work to be done.

“While we acknowledge the progress being made, domestic violence is still a serious crime that crosses all economic, racial, gender, educational, religious and societal barriers and is sustained by an attitude of indifference,” Walker said. ” … All Alaskans deserve to be safe in their homes and communities.”

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

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