Efforts to prevent sexual assault, domestic violence make a difference

The Council on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault supports the work of Alaska’s domestic violence and sexual assault shelters and violence prevention efforts statewide. To do that, the council has engaged a wide range of programs to make a difference, from sponsoring the Green Dot Alaska program to teaching effective violence intervention techniques, to supporting Coaching Boys Into Men and our Girls on the Run programs, to sponsorship of The Fourth R curriculum in schools, and more. 

We also have continued to support outside evaluation of these programs to make sure that your tax dollars are being spent on programs that really work to reduce violence.

Two recent comprehensive statewide evaluations have shown that your prevention and intervention efforts are working in Alaska to reduce violence.

In concert with the University of Alaska Anchorage, the council conducts The Alaska Victimization Survey — an ongoing comprehensive statewide and regional survey to look at the prevalence of violence over time. Results of the most recent survey show that prevalence of domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska has dropped since 2010.

In 2010, 58 percent of Alaska women surveyed reported experiencing intimate partner or sexual violence in their lifetime. In 2015, that number dropped to 50 percent. 

While we know that is still much too high, it is good news in that the survey validates we are seeing a downward trend in violence. These are important results for evaluating the need for continued support of prevention and response efforts statewide.

In addition, a comprehensive evaluation of The Fourth R Program also showed that the school-based program makes a difference for youth. The Fourth R Program is designed to reduce violence, substance use and other risk behaviors among youth. The evaluator’s report showed the curriculum had positive impacts on youth and teachers involved. 

What the evaluation also found was that youth who participated in the Fourth R program showed improved awareness of abusive behavior and reduced acceptance of physical aggression and social attitudes and beliefs around rape. Results indicated that both students and teachers who participated in the Fourth R program improved communications around healthy relationships, bystander intervention and conflict resolution. And teachers who had experience with other health curricula reported preferring the Fourth R to any other curricula.

As Alaska enters into the new legislative session, it is the hope of the council that these findings will assist Alaskans to see the benefits of supporting evidence-based domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs statewide. We’re headed in the right direction and need to strengthen these efforts because while the drop is good, we still have a long way to go before all women are safe in Alaska.

Lauree Morton is the executive director of Alaska’s Council on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault.