Opinion

Commentary: Alaska's grim numbers about violence against women demand action

Gov. Sean Parnell was right in August when he said we can't be a decent, good society — no matter what our wealth — unless we reverse Alaska's chronic epidemic of sexual assault and domestic violence.

A survey of Alaska women by the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center tells us that epidemic is worse than we thought. The survey found that more than half the women contacted reported being victimized at some point in their lives, and one in eight during the year before the survey.

When a veteran Alaska law enforcement officer like Audie Holloway, director of the Alaska State Troopers, says he finds the numbers shocking, that should get everyone's attention.

So what do we do to change it, besides wringing our hands and shaking our heads?

"We need to stop blaming the victims of sexual assault," says Nancy Haag, director of Standing Together Against Rape (STAR). Haag says that blame remains more prevalent -- sometimes unconsciously so -- than many people believe.

That change helps the victim -- and puts the blame squarely and entirely where it belongs -- on the perpetrator.

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