Opinion: Our safety is worth protecting

Opinion: Our safety is worth protecting

Safety starts with listening. But it doesn’t end there.

If there is one thing we can agree on as a diverse and opinionated community, it is that our safety and the safety of our children is vital and worth protecting.

So how do we ensure safety for all?

I believe safety starts with listening, but it doesn’t end there. For survivors of domestic and sexual violence (DV/SA), listening to their stories is how we put language to the harm. And we know people will only offer their story if they can be reasonably sure the listener will believe them, take their concerns seriously and share their desire for justice. In this time, given the state of national and local divisiveness and fear, it is difficult to trust anyone with your story.

Fortunately, we can build a foundation of trust if we put our collective strength toward developing policies that promote safety. Leaders with the Alaska Children’s Alliance, Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center, and Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault have detailed brilliant, collaborative strategies to strengthen our response to domestic and sexual violence. It is up to us to move their good work forward. Their recommendations include: establishing Special Victims Units in Alaska’s regional District Attorney Offices, supporting rural communities in creating specialized response plans for DV/SA, and expanding collaboration between the state and tribal entities. You can learn more at 49rising.com.

As the legislative season approaches, please use your voice to help these strategies become realities in Alaska, where safety and justice are prioritized for all.

Mandy O’Neal Cole,

AWARE Deputy Director,


• My turns and letters to the editor represent the view of the author, not that of the Juneau Empire.