WASILLA — Have your romantic or sexual partners ever slapped you, pushed or shoved you, kicked you, hurt you by pulling your hair, hit you with a fist or something hard, slammed you against something, tried to hurt you by choking or suffocating you, beaten you, burned you on purpose, or used a knife or a gun on you?
More than half of 1,190 adult Mat-Su women surveyed by phone from April to July said they have experienced this sort of intimate partner violence, sexual violence or both in their lifetimes, according to results released Oct. 8 by the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
Lauree Morton, the council’s executive director, said the new regional data is part of the Alaska Victimization Survey, which began in 2010 to establish the extent of domestic and sexual violence statewide. That study found that 59 out of every 100 women surveyed statewide experienced intimate partner violence, sexual violence or both, she said. And it also brought to light the need for local data, Morton said.
This year, the Alaska Victimization Survey is modeled upon the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Surveillance System developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with the National Institute of Justice and the U.S. Department of Defense.
Regional studies were completed for the Mat-Su, Kenai and Ketchikan this year. The later two sets of data will be released later in October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Andre B. Rosay is the director of the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center and is leading the research and analysis on the project. He said it’s no secret Alaska leads the nation in crime statistics such as forcible rape, child abuse and suicide.
For example, Uniform Crime Reports data shows rates of forcible rape occurs in Alaska two and a half times more frequently than the national average.
“Keep in mind that too many have experienced this violence more than once in their lifetimes,” Rosay said.
Morton said the new data show how far-reaching the impacts of domestic violence are in the Mat-Su. She said the victimization study is “the first definitive measure of incidence and prevalence, which can be used to provide greater empirical support for responses to, and prevention of, violence against women.”
Numbers for the Mat-Su show that 7.6 percent of women in the borough experienced intimate partner violence in the past year, according to the survey.
That’s six mothers, sisters, daughters and wives every day in the Mat-Su who are experiencing violence at the hands of men who claim to love them, she said.
Regional data also is available for Bristol Bay, the city of Fairbanks and the Fairbanks Northstar Borough, the Municipality of Anchorage, Kodiak Island Borough, the City and Borough of Sitka, the City and Borough of Juneau and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
Morton said the plan is to repeat the regional surveys and compare the data in five years.
“It’s a way to measure the success of prevention programs in the Mat-Su,” she said.
Alaska Family Services President and CEO Donn Bennice said the survey numbers likely are a very conservative estimate since women in shelters, prisons and hospitals were excluded from the phone survey.
He said the nonprofit he heads, which operates the women’s shelter in the Valley, will use the information to help craft vigorous prevention strategies.
Bennice said while the results are abysmal, the numbers were even more chilling after he realized that 95 percent of the women surveyed also are likely mothers.
“It’s no surprise that the kids will come out of those experiences traumatized, too,” he said.
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