Kenai Mayor Pat Porter said it best: “In a perfect world down the line, I definitely would hope that we don’t have to do this anymore.”
Porter was speaking of recent proclamations made by Kenai and Soldotna recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Borough Mayor Mike Navarre will make a similar proclamation later this month.
As Porter noted, it is unfortunate that such a proclamation is needed — but crucial that attention continues to be drawn to an issues that impacts our community deeply.
On the Kenai Peninsula, at least 52 percent of women living on the Kenai Peninsula have or will experience domestic violence, according to the 2013 Alaska Victimization Study conducted by the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center and the state Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Statewide, 59 percent of women experience partner violence, sexual violence or both, according to the survey.
Put another way, just about every resident of the Kenai Peninsula has been directly affected by domestic violence, or knows a person who has. And there’s a good chance we don’t even realize the scope of the issue — thus the importance of programs and proclamations to continue to raise awareness.
Education and outreach remain crucial tools in addressing the issue. Community-based programs, such as the LeeShore Center’s Green Dot campaign, that operate under the premise that anyone has the ability to prevent a potentially violent situation, either by calling the police or speaking up, invite the entire community to become part of the solution.
Looking at the numbers, it is clear that domestic violence impacts our entire community. Someday, we hope, the issue won’t require an awareness campaign, but will take a continued community effort — and even more awareness — to change that.