Survey: 1 in 3 Alaska women are stalked

One third of all women in Alaska have been stalked in their lifetimes.

That’s the estimate released by the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center and the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault this week. The results from their 2015 statewide Alaska Victimization Survey released Tuesday also show one in 17 adult Alaska women responded that they had been stalked within the last year.

Nearly 3,030 adult women with cell phones and land lines were surveyed from May-August 2015, and the main results of the victimization survey were published in spring 2016. They showed that 50 percent of all Alaska women responded that they had experienced sexual violence, intimate partner violence or both.

These are the first statewide estimates on stalking in Alaska, said Jayne Andreen, interim executive director of the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. She said the estimates can help inform future policies and assist law enforcement in addressing stalking.

“It often can be a precursor,” Andreen said.

A person commits an act of stalking “if they knowingly engage in a course of conduct that recklessly places another person in fear of death or physical injury, or in fear of the death or physical injury of a family member,” according to the survey, which pulled from Alaska statutes on the subject. Participants were asked behavior-specific questions about eight forms of nonconsensual contact, according to the survey, which included being watched or followed, being spied on, receiving threatening items, getting unwanted messages and more.

Researchers tried to measure stalking in Alaska during the first Alaska Victimization Survey, conducted in 2010, but the definition of stalking used in that survey didn’t work with participants, said André Rosay, the survey’s principle researcher. The definition was changed and used in the 2015 survey, making the results more fit to analyze, he said.

“It is the first time we’ve collected (stalking) data so we don’t have anything to compare it to at this point in time,” Andreen said. “… The intent is, as long as we can support it financially, we will continue to collect this data.”

The only numbers the council had in the past were that of official records of people seeking help for stalking issues and of stalking cases making their way through the court system, Andreen said. While the survey estimates can’t be compared to anything right now, they can help back up what Andreen said people working in fields like hers have known for years — that stalking is serious and is part of a continuum of domestic violence behavior.

These stalking results from the 2015 survey were released this year to coincide with National Stalking Awareness Month, according to a release from the council.

“Part of the reason we are releasing these in Stalking Awareness Month is to raise awareness on this crime,” Rosay said. “Few people tend to think about harassing behaviors as stalking.”

Stalking itself is a complicated incident that requires multiple unwanted contacts, whether physical or not, so the stalking estimates took a bit longer to analyze, Rosay said.

In addition to one in three women reporting to the survey that they have been stalked, the survey found stalking was more common among women who were already experiencing sexual violence and domestic violence. Rosay said these estimates can be helpful either for women in domestic violence situations to recognize that stalking is its own crime, or for friends and family to know another sign to look for.

“We’d like people to recognize that this is a crime and understand the consequences of it,” he said.

The Kenai Police Department got four reports of stalking last year, two reports of stalking in 2015 and three reports of it in 2014, said Kenai Police Chief Dave Ross. These could be reports of stalking or of a stalking restraining order being violated, he said.

While stalking is not reported often, these low numbers do not necessarily mean it isn’t happening more often in Kenai, Ross said. Often, the act of stalking will occur alongside domestic violence, so it is not reported as a separate issue.

“The vast majority of people that have domestic violence issues are getting a domestic violence restraining order,” Ross said. “They’re not getting a stalking restraining order.

The survey was limited in the fact that researchers only contacted adult women in Alaska with cell phones or landlines. This excluded women in jail or women who were staying in shelters to avoid abuse, like the LeeShore Center in Kenai or South Peninsula Haven House in Homer.

Still, Andreen said the survey’s estimates are more accurate than going off official reports of stalking alone, since the survey is anonymous and participants are more likely report incidents in response to the survey even if they don’t report them to the police.

Missi White, executive director of Haven House, said stalking is an issue shelter staff come across on a regular basis as they respond to a full spectrum of interpersonal violence.

“The results do not surprise me,” she said.

It even comes into play in a way when it comes to security of the Haven House building. Protecting people who come to the shelter from others who could potentially follow them is a a major focus of the security protocol, White said.

On the other side of the spectrum, White said Haven House staff assist both men and women with stalking issues from being approached to unwanted phone calls.

“The fact that the justice center is really focused on this important topic I think is just commendable to them,” White said.

Andreen said the survey results have been helpful in confirming how extensive a problem stalking is in Alaska. She thinks they can serve as a heads up to those already experiencing stalking who may not take it seriously enough to report it.

“It is very serious,” Ross said. “Some of the cases we’ve seen are extreme in that the victims are very scared, and the potential defendant is very scary. So I would encourage people to report those incidents and take them seriously.”

Reach Megan Pacer at

More in News

Members of the community attend the first part of the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska’s Food Security and Sustainability Series in August 2022. (Photo courtesy Challenger Learning Center of Alaska)
Challenger Learning Center workshop focuses on food sustainability

Gathering, growing and preserving food in the form of plants, fish and other animals will be discussed

Examples of contemporary books that have been banned or challenged in recent years are displayed on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, at the Soldotna Public Library in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna library hosts Banned Book Club

Books have been challenged or banned for their content nationwide.

Nikiski Middle/High School Principal Shane Bostic stands near a track and field long jump sand pit on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. The track is one of several projects in a bond package Kenai Peninsula voters will consider during the Oct. 4 municipal election next month. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Nikiski athletes await upgrade

Funding for long-delayed school projects on Oct. 4 ballot

Lars Arneson runs to victory and a new event record in the Kenai River Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
A speech, a smartphone and a bike

Circumstances lead Arneson to Kenai River Marathon record

Trees with fall colors populate the Shqui Tsatnu Creek gully as seen from Fourth Avenue on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai to use $770k in grants to remove hazard trees along Shqui Tsatnu Creek

The money will be used to mitigate hazards caused by dead and dying spruce trees over more than 100 acres of city land

Alaska state Rep. David Eastman, a Wasilla Republican, is shown seated on the House floor on April 29, 2022, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)
Alaska judge keeps Oath Keepers lawmaker on November ballot

Judge Jack McKenna on Thursday ordered elections officials to delay certifying the result of that particular race

An image purportedly from the computer screen of a digital media specialist for Gov. Mike Dunleavy shows numerous files and folders of campaign advertising. A complaint filed against the governor, plus other individuals and organizations, claims administrative staff is illegally doing paid campaign work on behalf of the governor. (Screenshot from complaint filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission)
Dunleavy faces more accusations in campaign complaint

Governor calls it “specious and unfounded.”

A recent photo of Anesha "Duffy" Murnane, missing since Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided, Homer Police Department)
A 2019 photo of Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, who went missing since Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer. (Photo provided, Homer Police Department)
Calderwood indicted for murder

Indictment charges man accused of killing Anesha “Duffy” Murnane with first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault.

Triumvirate Theatre is seen on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. The building burned in a fire on Feb. 20 of that year. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai council gives Triumvirate more time to build theater

The Kenai City Council voted last summer to conditionally donate a 2-acre parcel of city land near Daubenspeck Park and the Kenai Walmart

Most Read