Alaska abuse shelters throughout the state took in more victims last year, according to the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
The number of nights spent in a shelter between Fiscal Year 2010 and FY 2011 increased by 5 percent.
Places like Juneau’s AWARE shelter provide protection and intervention for victims as well as education and outreach.
AWARE, which stands for Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies, has helped battered women and children in Juneau and nine other rural communities for more than 30 years.
Next week it will offer 40 hours of training about the scourge of abuse.
The class is for community members who want to help family or friends who may have been victims of abuse as well as people who work in health care and other agencies that deal with victims.
AWARE’s Swarupa Toth says the two-part 40-hour training begins by exploring the basic history and foundation of domestic violence, adult and child sexual abuse, taught by experts who work in the field.
But she says the real experts are the victims with whom they work.
“The people who really teach us about what’s going on and what works are the women and children and the men themselves, the victims. They’re the ones who let us know what works for them and what doesn’t; what the real concern is and what will help them and what we can do to help other people,” Toth says. “Often times after a trauma, the best medicine for someone who’s trying to survive one of these experiences is someone who has survived.”
Toth says the first 25 hours of training are Sept. 10th through the 20th on evenings and weekends. She says people also can sign up for fewer hours.
Toth describes the last 15 hours as more “hands-on.” It will be taught by AWARE staff and volunteers, emergency room nurses, and staff from other agencies who work with assault victims. She says many of the people who take the second part of the training are interested in volunteering or working in the field.
Alaska has one of the highest rates of domestic violence and sexual assault in the country. The 2010 Alaska Victimization Survey estimates that nearly 60 percent of Alaskan women have or will experience some sort of sexual violence in their lifetime.
Toth says the Parnell administration’s Choose Respect campaign has helped raise awareness of domestic and sexual violence in Alaska.