“More than three out of every 10 adult women in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime,” according to the 2013 Alaska Victimization Survey for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
According to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, or RAINN, effects for victims of sexual assault include:
- 94% of women who are raped experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, during the two weeks following the rape.
- 30% of women report symptoms of PTSD nine months after the rape.
- 33% of women who are raped contemplate suicide.
- 13% of women who are raped attempt suicide.
- Approximately 70% of rape or sexual assault victims experience moderate to severe distress, a larger percentage than for any other violent crime.
Ana Sajinka, a seasonal worker in Anchorage, is from Sofia, Bulgaria. She works nights at a busy downtown restaurant and is wary about going home every night on her bicycle.
“I am a woman and of course I feel vulnerable. Leaving work, I feel such urgency to just get home. I am always worried that the next man I encounter outside will be a creep,” Sajinka said.
Sajinka says that she takes steps towards being better prepared to protect herself.
“I carry pepper spray with me, and if I can, I try to get a ride with a friend or bike with another server from the restaurant,” Sajinka said.
This “basic Personal Defense System is a national program of realistic self-defense tactics and techniques taught for women only. All courses are taught by nationally certified R.A.D. Instructors,” according to the UAA University Police Website.
This training starts in September. There are two classes per month until November.
A second resource UAA provides for women is the Dating Violence Coalition for Change, or DVSA, an organization which aids in preventing violence against women and victim advocacy.
Their mission statement is “to coordinate efforts by groups on campus in providing education and training programs promoting awareness and prevention in interpersonal violence and sexual assault.”
The UAA website also has an information page for advice and resources concerning sexual assault, provided by the Office of Student Affairs.
There are other options around town for women interested in better protecting themselves, such as the monthly Women’s Self Defense Seminar at Krav Maga Anchorage.
“The seminar covers a select few topics drawn from the open class curriculum across a wide variety of scenarios both inside and outside (vehicles, dark parking lot, etc.) of our training facility” as stated by the Krav Maga Anchorage website.
Classes are held every third Sunday of each month from 1-2:30 p.m., costing $35 per person at a flat rate. Participants must be 13 years old or older.
Sajinka was once followed home from work and encourages other women to take action to equip themselves with the tools to protect against potential attack.
“Anchorage feels like a dangerous place for a woman. I guess the best thing you can do to feel safe is to be street smart and try not to be alone at night. Pepper spray also helps,” Sajinka said
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, contact DVSA for resources and support.