Alaska has the highest rate of intimate partner violence and sexual assault in the country. On Thursday, March 27, there will be 150 cities, towns, and villages hosting the fifth annual Choose Respect marches to raise awareness about this epidemic and show support for victims and survivors.
People should gather at 11:45 a.m. at Totem Square for Sitka’s Choose Respect march. The march starts at noon and will follow a path down Lincoln Street from City Hall to the Crescent Harbor shelter. Once marchers reach Crescent Harbor, there will be an opportunity for people to speak about their own experiences and how domestic violence can be prevented. Curtis Thayer, Alaska’s Commissioner of Administration, will march with us and speak on Gov. Sean Parnell’s behalf.
According to 2010 Alaska Victimization Survey statistics posted on the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault website, out of 100 adult women in Alaska 48 experienced intimate partner violence, 37 experienced sexual violence, and 59 had experienced both. The 2012 Alaska Victimization Survey statistics for Sitka were slightly better, with 40 women out of 100 saying they had experienced intimate partner violence, 25 experiencing sexual violence, and 47 experiencing both.
Gov. Parnell launched the Choose Respect program in 2009, making the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault a priority of his administration. Since then the Choose Respect marches have spread from 18 to 150 communities in 2013. Interpersonal violence is a huge problem in Alaska, and it does not only affect individuals and families, but the entire community. Please join and demonstrate that as a community, we can stand together, learn about the issues, help protect and heal, and prevent future violence.