New study finds high rate of Alaska women killed by homicide

Lisa Demer

A new national study by a nonprofit organization says Alaska is second worst in the country in its rate of women killed by men.

The Violence Policy Center, a research and education group that works to stop gun violence, released its annual report last week.

It analyzed data from an unpublished FBI report of homicides in 2011, the most recent year for which complete data was available.

In Alaska, 2.01 women per 100,000 were killed by men, compared with a national rate of 1.17 per 100,000. The only state with a worse record was South Carolina, with 2.54 per 100,000. The study excludes cases with multiple victims or perpetrators.

The high Alaska rate was based on seven deaths. Alaska's small population means a fluctuation of two or three homicides over a year can put the state near the top of the national homicide study, said Katie Tepas, who works as Gov. Sean Parnell's coordinator for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention.

Last year Alaska ranked 24th, with four homicides, Tepas noted in an email.

Three of the seven Alaska women died by gunshot, and two were stabbed to death. One was beaten. Four were killed by a husband, boyfriend or ex, the report said. All knew the man who killed them.

"Each of these deaths are tragic and represent the loss of a loved one," Tepas said. "Simply stated, one is too many."

Alaska's rate of domestic violence also is extremely high. A statewide victimization survey in 2010 found that 59 percent of Alaska women say they've been a victim of domestic violence, sexual violence or both.

Lauree Morton, executive director of the state Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, said a variety of approaches are being tried to give girls more confidence and help children better manage their emotions and learn to care about others.

Tepas works on Parnell's Choose Respect Initiative, which she said seeks to hold offenders accountable, provide a safe place and healing for victims, promote healthy relationships and change social norms.

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