• Perspectives on sexual assault and domestic violence in rural Alaskan communities

      Hayden, Katheryn S.; Ehrlander, Mary F.; McCartney, Leslie; Charles, Walkie (2018-05)
      Alaska's rate of reported sexual assault is nearly three times the national average, and underreporting may be as high as 70 percent. In rural communities, the rates of both sexual and domestic violence are higher still. Through oral history methodology my research explores how survivors, elders, and professionals view the issues surrounding this violence in remote communities. My findings highlight the interconnectedness of social problems, and the conditions within rural Alaskan communities that hinder reducing these problems. The variables associated with sexual and domestic violence that my respondents highlighted include: alcohol abuse, multigenerational trauma, lack of funding for services, isolation, and normalization of sexual assault and domestic violence. Based on my analysis of the interviews, I have suggested recommendations that I believe are attainable for professional offices in rural Alaska, and that may help them provide better quality services to their communities. These recommendations include: 1) social abuse and crisis training for rural paraprofessionals; 2) socio-cultural training for frontline professional workers, to educate them not only on the history of the region in which they work, but also on the interconnected and long-lasting effects of sexual and domestic violence; and 3) improved communication between rural Alaskan communities and the state agencies that serve them, possibly via a cultural liaison. I also urge public and rural education initiatives, both in schools and to the public at large, regarding the long term, complex, and multigenerational effects of sexual and domestic violence and alcohol abuse.