Sexual violence in Alaska is far worse than reported, study finds - Yahoo! News
FBI crime statistics show that the chance of a woman being raped in the state of Alaska is higher than in any other state in the union. But what about unreported sexual assaults? A new study conducted by the University of Alaska Anchorage's Justice Center found that 9 out of 10 rape cases go unreported.
The study offered more grim statistics:
* More than 44 percent of those surveyed have suffered physical violence in a close relationship, from slapping to severe beatings.
* More than 58 percent report that they've suffered either threats of violence or actual physical violence in an intimate relationship or sexual assault at some time in the lives.
* More than 37 percent report that they've suffered some form of sexual assault in their lives.
* More than 4 percent report that they've suffered sexual assault in the past year.
"If you really stop and think about it and consider these numbers, it means there's a level of violence and victimization in this state that makes you uncomfortable. It makes your skin crawl," State Senator Hollis French told Reuters.
Sexual assault can happen to anyone and perpetrators come from all races and socioeconomic classes, religions and cultures. However, Native American and Alaska Native women are 2 to 2.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than women of all other ethnicities in the U.S., Amnesty International reported.
Previous studies have also shown that the average age of rape victims in Alaska was 16 while the average age of those accused was 29. Four out of five cases involved suspects who were relatives, friends or acquaintances.
"When a victim knows who harmed them and they live in a small community where everyone is related, they know that if they report that they were harmed, then other community members will be impacted," Michelle DeWitt, director of the Tundra Women's Coalition, told The Associated Press. "Knowing that someone may be removed from the community makes it very difficult to talk about it."
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE for help. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network also operates 18 rape crisis centers in Alaska, and offers an online hotline, with live and anonymous crisis support 24 hours a day.
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