The most recently released Alaska Victimization Survey, which measures intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women, shows big improvement, though rates remain dangerously high.
"The trends are declining ... substantially," Dr. Andray Rosay, a researcher at the Justice Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage, told the Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Thursday. "Overall, we are moving in the right direction and we are making a difference."
The survey estimates how many women in Alaska have been abused in the last 12 months, and also over a lifetime. 2015 results show declines across the board compared to the study's first survey year, 2010.
For the last year comparisons, the 2015 results show dramatic reductions -- nearly 30 to 40 percent in every category.
The lifetime comparisons are similarly hopeful, down eight to 17 percent, depending on the type of violence being measured.
To put it in perspective, 6,556 fewer women experienced intimate partner violence in 2015 than in 2010. And 3,072 fewer women experienced sexual assault in 2015 than in 2010.
In 2015, eight out of every 100 women in Alaska experienced intimate partner or sexual violence within the past year. In 2010, 12 out of every 100 did.
While this is good news, the reality of just how at risk women in Alaska are for intimate partner violence and sexual assaults remains stark.
"Overall, the numbers are still atrocious. They are unacceptable," Rosay said. "Overall, half of adults have experienced one of these forms of violence in their lifetime. That's more than 130,000 adult women in the state of Alaska."
As with prior surveys, Rosay believes the estimated rates of violence would increase if vulnerable populations of women weren't excluded from the survey. Women who are homeless, living in shelters, in jail, or don't have access to a phone were not part of the study.
Council members seem confident the Choose Respect program, implemented under Gov. Sean Parnell, has had a substantial impact. Many other programs statewide have also taken the topic on in their own way.