Rape month

alaska rape monthThis is rape month in the rape state where men pose more of a threat to women than in any other.

“Since 2014, October has, on average,  the highest number of rape offenses of any month,” according to the newly released Crime in Alaska report from the Department of Public Safety. “In 2018, October recorded the highest number of rape offenses,
with 190 reported rapes.”

That’s more than three per day, and it widely accepted that rape is grossly underreported in the 49th state. A 2015 survey by the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center found a third of women in the state saying they had been victims of sexual violence.

Native women, particularly in rural Alaska, are especially at risk.

An April report to the Alaska Legislature from The Alaska Criminal Justice Commission described an “epidemic of sexual violence” in the state. 

“Alaska Native women are disproportionately affected by sexual violence,” the report said. “Among felony-level sex offense cases reported to Alaska law enforcement in
2017, Alaska Native women and girls comprised 42 percent of all victims.”

Alaska Native men, according to the newly released crime report, comprised 55 percent of the men arrested for rape last year. This in a state where Alaska Natives and American Indians comprise 15 percent of the population.

Not about race

This is not, however, a race issue. It is a socioeconomic issue.

When FiveThirtyEight reporters Kathryn Casteel, Julia Wolfe and Mai Nguyen probed the National Crime Victimization Survey last year they found what many other studies have found, a telltale link between poverty and rape.

While only 22 percent of U.S. households survive on incomes of less than $25,000 per year, they found 44 percent of rape victims live in such households.

“When you compare the lowest- and highest-income groups,” they wrote, “the difference in victimization rates is stark: People with household incomes of less than $7,500 reported a victimization rate of 4.8 incidents per 1,000 persons age 12 or older, which is 12 times the rate reported by those with household incomes greater than $75,000 (0.4 per 1,000).

“Research has shown an international link between poverty and sexual violence around the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists poverty and lack of jobs as community risk factors for sexual violence. And people with low incomes, who have less access to resources, are more vulnerable to sexual assault; research by advocacy groups suggests that perpetrators are more likely to target victims who are less likely to report what happened.”

The Alaska Criminal Justice report does not specifically break down the number of rapes occurring in rural Alaska versus urban Alaska, but it does note “Alaska Natives and rural Alaskans are often disproportionately affected by sexual violence.

“The problem is particularly pronounced in Western Alaska. In 2016, the rate of sexual violence incidents per 100,000 people reported to law enforcement in Western Alaska was 106 percent greater than the rate in the Anchorage area. In a study of reports to the Alaska State Troopers, the largest volume of sexual assault and abuse cases was handled by the Bethel unit—by a substantial margin (24 percent of cases). The next largest
was the Fairbanks unit (at 16 percent of cases).”

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that about 29 percent of the residents of the Bethel Census Area live in poverty. The percentage jumps to more than 37 percent in the adjacent Kusilvak Census Area also policed by Bethel-based troopers.

The poverty rate in Alaska is defined as a family of four living on $31,380 per year or less. That is almost $25,000 per year less than the MIT Living Wage Calculator estimates is needed for two working adults to support two children in Alaska. 

The weight of poverty weighs heavily on rural Alaskans and especially on women in rural Alaska. The Anchorage Daily News and Politico are reporting what they believe to be a potential Pulitzer-Prize winning series of stories focused on how increased law enforcement in rural Alaska is the solution, but the problem appears to go deeper than simply putting a policeman in every village.

Poverty links

Why poverty drives up the rate of sexual violence is much debated though the link itself is clear. Lack of self-esteem, loneliness, empathy deficits, misunderstandings of intimacy, sexual fantasies and more on the part of rapists have been identified.

“Several authors have argued that the relationship between poverty and perpetration of sexual violence is mediated through forms of crisis of masculine identity,” the World Health Organization notes.

“…Modern-day ideals of manhood…place an emphasis on material consumption. Trapped in their slums, with little or no available employment, (men) are unlikely to attain either of these models or expectations of masculine ‘success’. In these circumstances, ideals of masculinity are reshaped to emphasize misogyny, substance abuse and participation in crime….”

Former Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell began a program called “Choose Respect” to try to spark a discussion of these problems and change the way men across the state treat women. Though poo-pooed by some in Alaska as a sham, it drew some praise from outside the state.

And the Criminal Justice report to the Legislature this year suggested there is some merit to prevention programs.

“Apprehension and prosecution of sex offenders is only one component of reducing the high rates of sexual violence in Alaska,” the report said. “An even more effective (though longer-term) approach may be to focus on programs that will help prevent future sexual violence from occurring.

“Prevention programming not only reduces the rate of sexual violence, it is also cost-effective. A recent California study found that ‘prevention programs would lead to substantial cost savings: every prevented rape of an adult could save up to $163,800, and every prevented rape or sexual assault of a child could save up to $277,700.’ We also know that the estimated lifetime economic burden for victims of sexual assault and intimate partner violence in the state of Alaska is an estimated $11 billion.

“Given these projections, it is clear that investing in prevention programming is a cost-saver for the state and its residents in the long run.”

Alaska continues to fund some prevention programs, but like everything in the state at the moment they are affected by a $1 billion budget shortfall. And at the end of the day, the elephant lurking in the room isn’t spending on prevention, it is simple poverty with its broad negative effects on society.

Johns Hopkins University sociologist Karl Alexander’s three-decade-long study of poverty in Baltimore has well documented that growing up poor is a sentence to a life of trouble.

“Contrary to the popu­lar American narrative that everyone has equal access to opportunity as long as he or she is will­ing to work hard, the reality revealed by the study is grim,” John Hopkins Magazine would later report. “Education and hard work lift people from the inner city out of poverty only in excep­tional cases. The vast majority born poor are almost certain to stay that way.

“Many of the middle-class children in the study progressed through life’s stages as expected: school, college, work, marriage, par­enthood. But for poorer children, the picture was largely bleak….(with) stories of murdered friends and siblings, absent fathers, mothers too addicted to drugs or alcohol to pro­vide basic care, dreams deferred. The researchers show how, at each step on the path to adulthood, neighborhood and family and school conspire to pass down advantage and disadvantage from generation to generation.”

Among the disadvantages being passed down to poor women in Alaska – already the rape capital of America – is an even greater chance of getting raped than their better-off peers. But their economic plight, or for that matter that of the man who rape them, has never been considered an issue worthy of discussion.

The Alaskans who notice the problem at all, and there aren’t all that many, seem mainly interested in ensuring those living in the state’s remote regions can continue to survive with the support of welfare and Medicaid.




















Categories: News

19 replies »

  1. I think there are several factors causing Oct to be a problem month in Alaska for those who are dealing with mental illness to begin with.
    Return of darkness and cold temperatures cause anxiety and stress for those who are not prepared for winter…many tourist jobs also begin to lay off many Alaskans until next Spring.
    Let’s not forget many sexual assault perpetrators are not poor and look for victims primarily because they feel inadequate in other important areas of life.
    Ask yourself why would TWO Iditarod mushers in their 50’s rape women?
    Well, Jeffrey K. Holt was convicted in Homer back in 2013 and Carmen D. Perzechino was just hauled in on rape charges and extradited from the Philippines.
    Perzechino’s incident took place in the “dead” of the winter as he was offering his victim a ride home from the bar and I am not sure on the details of Holt’s act?
    Remember “the baker” who owned his own airplane and hunted women out on the Knik…
    Real AK sociopath but also rather Affluent… Alcohol dependence is probably the number 1 factor in ALL violent criminals.
    More steps should be taken to educate young people on the dangers of this easily available drug…especially among teens after H.S. sporting events.
    “Date Rape” is still one of the most common types of rape and the one that often goes unreported due to fear of shame and regret.

  2. I think it’s silly to assume because you gave your neighbor 1 k he raped someone. I think before such an enormous assumption is made more evidence must be had . On this thread , All I hear is supposition . Would any of you rape someone due to receiving money or in reverse the lack thereof ? Let’s see some direct studies that proove what people are proposing. Correlation is not causation and many things correlate with others but are not the cause. How about some facts ? Not just poverty causes rape which is bullshit . You could take everything I own and from people I know and it wouldn’t effect the rape statistics. Or the reverse. Give it and results are the same . I’m not denying that all the supposers might be right but it’s foolish to develop a public idea without adequate direct factual support. I’m not talking about worldwide poverty equates rape . That’s not proof . What causes Alaska rape ,where , why and when exactly? That’s the question. Then you can start to develop an answer.

    • the hypothesis is that rape is significantly about power as we have seen with #metoo. in the case of poverty, the theory is that some men feeling powerless going looking for power where they can obtain it, by overpowering women.

      i don’t think anyone is suggesting the PFD “causes” rape. but we do know that free money does tend to encourage people to spend on celebrations, and celebrations tend to involve drinking and drugs. it is well documented that alcohol and drugs a.) reduce inhibitions; and b.) in the case of alcohol, make some people more aggressive.

      no morally and ethically upright Alaska man is going to go rape a woman because he got a PFD check, but for some of those can barely abide by society’s rules when sober, a PFD check that pays for some partying might tip the balance.

      and in those areas of the state where it is thought that “well, he was drunk” is some sort of excuse for bad behavior (and there are still areas like this), this problem is only likely to be worse.

      • Makes sense . In a reverse concept way. So the question is what to do about it ? Keeping money from the poor makes little sense . Chris had a positive suggestion. I suggest hard core education for children and potential parents with an effort towards culture change . Versus law enforcement. Prisons are expensive and most cops are short sighted .

  3. Nature vs Nurture

    Science has been hammering the Nurture camp. And in key cases where they do like to claim Nature, it has declined to agree.

    So the Nurture scene is looking for relevence-projects, and they think Poverty might work for them.

    Certainly poverty can be reduced, or more-auspiciously yet, Upgraded. Work, jobs, bust your butt doing something, confers an upbeat Organic effect. Poverty is not inherently bad – we tune up a dreary sound-track for it … but the sun can shine and birds can sing and Life can be full of good things, for people with very little money.

    Problems in the Native communities (sexual abuse takes a Number and gets comfy ) are a pretty specific historic situation, and not a very good fit for the general societal Poverty concern. The abortion people got a delicate part of their anatomy pinched in the door-jam trying to make hay on AK Natives, too.

  4. “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” (Newton)
    The intended action of disbursing cash to “raise up the poor” also lowers people into the basement of their bad habits.(Nyman)
    The idea that the Dividend is a Socialist construct fails when you see that 90% of the benefit goes to the middle and upper class. Socialists now agree with me. The Dividend threatens their higher goal of increasing the role of government services in our lives.
    Neither is the Dividend a Capitalist goal. What fool gives up $100-200 million/year right off the top to the IRS?
    My solution is to put the Dividend funding into a tax exempt/deferred trust account in which you get 1 share issued to you each year of residency (forward – not like the old idea of counting past residency). If you live here until 2069 you will have 50 shares – so this rewards longevity of residency. The fund would be invested like a pension fund or less conservatively like the Permanent Fund.The value of your shares will increase parabolically. To maintain tax-exempt status, there would be restrictions on what your benefit at any point will pay (e.g. education, health care, senior services – things with a clear public purpose). After retirement you could withdraw the money in cash when you are in a lower tax bracket. That will end the attraction and addiction to the quick-cash Dividend and provide a greater long-term value to every resident.

  5. Depending on what numbers you use and how they are applied Alaska ranks second in per capita welfare spending. While most people are aware (or at least have a passing familiarity) of the fact that there is a time limit on welfare, Alaska Native villages that have a 50%+ unemployment rate are exempt from this limit. Meaning free welfare until unemployment levels drop, this heavily incentivizes unemployment. When food stamps and other social welfare programs are added in to the equation it begs the question how close to the poverty line do some of these folks live for free?

    Since the PFD has been brought up, and not that I disagree with the simple facts already listed, give people money and they will spend it, give a drunk money and the drunk spends that money on booze. If poverty is the key and some of these folks are close to the poverty line, how much would a fully funded PFD help towards pushing them above the poverty line? Would giving more free money guarantee a world free of rape? I think not.

    I would imagine that a majority of people living below the poverty line do not have gainful employment, whether it be because the government incentives or other reasons does not matter. I would suspect that a large percentage of rapists that live below the poverty line do not have gainful employment. Having a job would take a majority of people living below the poverty line, it would also give them a sense of self and pride, it would take some time off of their hands as well. If we were serious about improving the lot of those living below the poverty line we would incentivize gainful employment, not unemployment. If we were serious about improving the rape numbers in this state we would incentivize jobs over government handouts.

    • Whenever you give vulnerable people access to a chunk of cash, a high % of it goes to substance abuse, which then plays over to less inhibitions, that then become sexual abuse. Nothing to do with the amount of law enforcement personnel.
      A good % of the annual PFD is wasted on legal and illegal substances, which in the end harms our communities. Has been the story from the get go.
      Also, the % of reported rapes, has risen due to the victims, being given the opportunity to report, without being blamed, not listened too and now, finally supported throughout the process.
      Men have not made this process easy, and it is way past time we do whatever we can to stop this out of control behavior, by other male Alaskans. Time to stop the abuse! Now!

    • Agree Jame’s. I meant to highlight drinking/drugs more than the lack of police/prosecutors and the PFD as a cause. My bad..

  6. Its very unfortunate but also very true.And I don’t pretend to have a solution. I’ve spent a majority of my career working in coastal remote areas all over the state. I’ve acquired a lot of friends on the way in these travels. Over the years, I’ve seen first hand the diminish of the family unit. Maybe they kept problems like this in the closet years ago. I don’t know. But you don’t have to go far. Just take a ride across the inlet over to Tyonek.
    Maybe it is a socioeconomic problem. 30 years ago, it wasn’t too hard to hire locals in these areas, but in the last several years its pretty tough to find a non-felon that can pass a drug test with a good work ethic.Or if I do find one, they are so far in the rears with child support obligations, once they hit the radar, and CSD finds them via payroll reporting, they don’t stay around very long.
    I’m not being a racist, just stating observations as I see them.

    • rural Alaska was a different place when i got here in ’73 than it is now. i tend to blame TV in large part, but the problem is bigger than that.

      my experience is that there now some people out there with a sense of drive and direction doing well, and a lot of people just lost and wondering what their place in the modern world.

      this seems especially true for young men, but that could be an observational bias from having grown up in a poor part of the country around a lot of young men who just wanted to get out. fortunately, there were roads, and they could.

      i shudder to think what might have happened if we’d all been living in a remote village surrounded by friends and family who thought leaving for better opportunities elsewhere meant deserting.

      it’s a difficult and complicated situation in this state.

  7. As Craig likes to say “ correlation is not causation”The dividend happening on “ rape month “ may or may not be connected. Freeze up also happens this month, hunting season ends , first big snow , construction winds down , fishing slows , paychecks for seasonal workers whatever. Also the concept poverty is connected to rape is a logical fallacy . The question should be what’s connected to poverty ? That is also is connected to rape ? Ethics and education are connected . Rich and poor rape alike . Their are famous rapists / killers who were well off . Epstein, ed buck . Hollywood figures ect . It happens among all . The question is why ? First suspect among reasons is poor ethical choices . What causes ? lack of family/ parental teaching . Bum role models. Lack of resources was never a valid excuse and studies that promote such are truly bad science meant to confuse everyone. What causes rape is mental illness and poor ethics . What causes poor ethics ? Mostly lack of family structure and bad childhood experiences or health combined with lack of adequate parenting . The only way poverty and ethics connected is if the parents work to much and neglect their duties. Same with the concept poverty begats poverty . It’s a logical fallacy . Lack of education and parenting begats poverty. It’s a personal Choice to live in poverty . Unless a person is mentally damaged . Education and personal responsibility can lift anyone out of poverty excluding mental illness. The key is a can do attitude. My parents told me I can do whatever I set my mind to and they were right . If you don’t have the money to pay for education, be honest, live in a tent , walk to the liabrary , get manual labor jobs , eat pigeons and sticklle backs ,rabbits and wild plants ,save money for books and college if wanted . The work force is desperate for hardworking honest loyal ethical people. Those are the traits major buisnessmen look for . Including but not limited to the founder of berskshire Hathaway . Knowledge is power . If poverty and crime are to be conquered invest in improving our education system I’m not just talking school I’m talking the information new parents are given for raising children ect .as well as school also supporting parents and ethical family’s . Law enforcement is only a knee jerk stop gap measure, IMO

    • I should clarify. Education. Not school. Quality Education can be any form of learning. Abe Lincoln mostly learned at home . From borrowing books and his parents. I’m not a fan of our current “ school “system as it separates children and their parents . Education begins with correct parenting and home experience.

  8. Alcohol and drug consumption rises with the influx of over a billion dollars in PFD money. Some people become violent under the influence; others become more vulnerable……

      • Being here many years prior to the PFD, I noticed the spike the first year. Since I owned rentals, I noticed the increase in booze bottles in the trash and domestic disturbances as soon as the checks started arriving. Sad indeed, but very noticeable. Also, I worked on construction and an alarming number of my fellow workers thought nothing of spending their children’s PFDs on drugs and alcohol.

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