Letter: Groups working to end domestic violence

October was an especially significant month for Alaskans. It was National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, when community groups present events and activities to help improve our understanding of how atrocious acts like intimate partner violence and sexual assault negatively effects individuals, families and communities. Ancient beliefs that support unequal human rights lay the foundation for intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Fortunately, community partners are working to develop a culture that widely rejects those beliefs.

Stopping violence against women is a key element in the National Organization for Women’s (NOW) mission. We Alaska NOW volunteers make it our business to join the community in this effort every October. An important source for our work is Alaska’s Choose Respect program, which continues to provide useful data, critical funding and high-quality online resources for community use. Like Gov. Bill Walker, whose Juneau residence as lit up in purple during October, Alaska’s Choose Respect programs and community partners took action to help lead Alaskans toward a safer and healthier future.

This year, Alaska NOW volunteers were privileged to work with many agencies, businesses and organizations on various Domestic Violence Awareness Month projects in the Juneau, Fairbanks and Mat-Su Valley areas.

For the second year, Juneau’s Treadwell Ice Arena, AWARE center and NOW volunteers presented their “Turn the Ice Purple Disco Open Skate” at the arena on Oct. 14. In the context of a safe, fun and family-friendly event, the group’s action provided attendees issue-related literature and information as well as an opportunity to donate needed items for the AWARE shelter.

Juneau’s Capital Chat also broadcast a highly informative, pre-event interview with the three organizers: Lauren Anderson of the Treadwell Ice Arena, NOW volunteer Rachel Gearhart, and Saralyn Tabachnick of AWARE. We commend these three women for committing their time, resources, and energy to ensure an effective event for Juneau. We are very grateful to Lauren, Rachel, and Saralyn for this and the work they continue to do.

As Margaret Mead wisely said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Small groups of grassroots activists across the state are working to end violence against women. In Alaska, we know that at least one of every two Alaskan women and their families are counting on them.

Barbara McDaniel

President, National Organization for Women, Alaska chapter