‘We can all do something’

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Tuesday, October 28, 2014 11:29pm
  • News

While domestic violence is not a traditional value within Alaska tribal groups and organizations, its presence is a reality. Alaskan Native women and Indigenous women across the U.S. are at a much greater risk of abuse than the general population.

The Kenaitze Indian Tribe’s Na’ini Social Services program, with social services specialists Lindsey Anasogak and Lucy Daniels, is a local organization addressing the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault that affects more than one in three Alaska Natives.

At a forum hosted at the Dena’ina Wellness Center Tuesday, Anasogak presented the program’s response to the needs of those affected by domestic violence in the community. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Alaska Native women report on average 25 unsuccessful attempts at leaving an abusive partner before making a permanent break, said Barbara Waters, The LeeShore Center’s education and training coordinator. This number is an average, she warns. These numbers are also underestimated due to victims under-reporting abuses.

The 2010 Alaska Victimization Survey for the state of Alaska conducted by the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault provides some insight into the numbers, but left out an important portion of the state’s population, Anasogak said.

“The survey did not include non-English speaking women,” Anasogak said. “If you look at a language map of Alaska there are small villages along the coast where English is not the first spoken language.”

The Kenaitze domestic violence program functions under a federal grant, the Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation, which provides services to women and girls who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking, Anasogak said. The State of Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault grant assists women, men and adolescents who have experienced sexual assault. However, no services available for men affected by domestic violence, she said.

“That is a gap we have in our community,” Anasogak said.

The Kenaitze program works with other organizations in the community, such as LeeShore, to help fill in the missing pieces, and vice versa, Waters said.

The LeeShore Center does not offer monetary help to its clients, but the tribe’s social services program can assist financially, Waters said.

The tribe’s program refers victims in need of shelter to The LeeShore Center, Anasogak said.

“We can’t all do everything but we can all do something,” Waters said.

Many of the women who come to the social services program aren’t aware there is a cycle of violence, but they are already familiar with it, Anasogak said. They have already been through it in their relationships, she said.

Neither program will advise clients to leave their relationships, Waters said. That would only further take away power from the victim, she said.

There are likely many factors contributing to why someone stays in an abusive relationship beyond just the simple choice to leave, Anasogak said. Children, pets and finances are often in play as well, she said.

“Usually a lot of power and control that’s placed into the relationship before the cycle of violence begins,” Anasogak said.

It is important to understand these are learned behaviors, Anasogak said. Domestic violence is not a traditional Athabascan or Dena’ina value, she said.

Identifying direct and indirect factors in domestic violence is key, Anasogak said. For example, drugs and alcohol contribute to instances of abuse, but are not the cause.

“In western villages similar to where I grew up (Bethel) there’s a lot of alcohol involved in abuse, but it is not directly related to the abuse,” Anasogak said.

If a woman is pregnant it can often make the situation worse, but is not the source, Waters said. The abuser feels like he has lost control when a woman is directing all of her attention to the baby, she said.

Anasogak said the tribe’s services will handle clients’ needs on a case by case basis.

In reality when someone doesn’t want help there is very little loved one can do other than be there and love them, Waters said. Make the resources available if they chose to take it, she said.

LeeShore’s Transitional Shelter currently is almost at maximum capacity, Waters said.

“We always say we would like to work our way out of the job,” Waters said. “I would like to wake up one morning and no man has abused another woman. But this probably won’t happen in my lifetime.”


Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Bradley Walters leads the pack up Angle Hill on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, at the Salmon Run Series at Tsalteshi Trails. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Summer races kick off at Tsalteshi

The annual Salmon Run Series 5K races start on July 6 and continue every Wednesday through Aug. 3

Central Emergency Services staff wait to receive doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly mulls bond for new CES fire station

Replacement of the current station is estimated to cost $16.5 million

Buldozers sit outside of the former Kenai Bowling Alley on Thursday, June 23, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Old Kenai bowling alley comes down

The business closed in 2015

Landslide debris surrounds part of Lowell Point Road on Friday, June 3, 2022, in Seward, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly looks to mitigate future Lowell Point Road dangers

Assembly members approved legislation supporting agencies working to address the “repetitive hazards”

The Alaska Department of Health And Social Services building in Juneau has no visible signs indicating the department is splitting into two agencies as of Friday. Top officials at the department said many of the changes, both physical and in services, are likely weeks and in some cases months away. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Little sign of big change for DHSS

No commissioner at new department, other Department of Health and Social Services changes may take months

Nate Rochon cleans fish after dipnetting in the Kasilof River, on June 25, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
King closures continue; Kasilof dipnet opens Saturday

The early-run Kenai River king sport fishery remains closed, and fishing for kings of any size is prohibited

An "Al Gross for Congress" sign sits near the driveway to Gross’ home in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, after he announced plans to withdraw from the U.S. House race. Gross has given little explanation in two statements for why he is ending his campaign, and a woman who answered the door at the Gross home asked a reporter to leave the property. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Alaska judge rules Sweeney won’t advance to special election

JUNEAU — A state court judge ruled Friday that Alaska elections officials… Continue reading

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion 
Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen listens to a presentation from Alaska Communications during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska.
ACS pilots fiber program in certain peninsula neighborhoods

The fiber to the home service will make available the fastest internet home speeds on the peninsula

Most Read