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Chilling Report Finds that One in Three Women in Alaska have Experienced Stalking

Photo by takis katris, Creative Commons Licensing.

On Tuesday, the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Department released the results of a new survey that measures how many women have experienced stalking and physical violence. The results are not good.

The 2015 Alaska Victimization Survey was conducted from May to August 2015, in partnership with Alaska’s Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, housed in the Alaska Department of Public Safety. It comprises the response from 3,027 adult women who were randomly selected via land lines and cell phones.

The report concedes that the voluntary reporting of stalking and physical violence — and the fact that non-English speaking women were not included, nor were women without phone access — suggests the numbers are likely higher.

Stalking is an offense defined as an act where a person “knowingly [engages] in a course of conduct that recklessly places another person in fear of death or physical injury, or in fear of the death or physical injury of a family member.”

“Nonconsensual contact” means any contact with another person that is initiated or continued without that person’s consent, that is beyond the scope of the consent provided by that person, or that is in disregard of that person’s expressed desire that the contact be avoided or discontinued. “Nonconsensual contact” includes following or appearing within the sight of that person; approaching or confronting that person in a public place or on private property, appearing at the workplace or residence of that person, entering onto or remaining on property owned, leased, or occupied by that person; contacting that person by telephone, sending mail or electronic communications to that person; and placing an object on, or delivering an object to, property owned, leased, or occupied by that person.

According to the report, one in three women in Alaska have been stalked in their lifetime.

“That’s more than 80,800 adult Alaskan women,” André Rosay, Ph.D., of the UAA Justice Center, the survey’s principle researcher, noted in a press release. “In 2015 alone, one in 17 adult women in Alaska (more than 15,300 women) were stalked.”

Rosay also noted the strong correlation between stalking and domestic violence and sexual assault. Half of the respondents who reported being stalked — 66,800 — said they had experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime; 27 percent in the past year. In Anchorage, specifically, 5.4 percent of respondents reported intimate partner violence in the last year.

The highest instances of stalking came in the form of unwanted phone calls or text messages as well as being approached at home, work, or school.

“This survey data also highlights the need for local law enforcement and statewide shelter
programs to work closely together in the response to stalking as a part of the entire domestic violence and sexual assault continuum,” Brenda Stanfill said in the same press release. Stanfill is the Executive Director of the Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living in Fairbanks.

The overall trend points downwards, with intimate partner violence decreasing 32 percent from 2010, as well as a 33 percent drop in sexual violence. But the report places emphasis on the fact that “the number of victims remains unacceptably high,” and concludes that the state needs to “strengthen our efforts for all women to be safe in Alaska.”