By KTUU News Staff
7:06 PM AKDT, August 17, 2012
Sexual assault cases in Anchorage are reported often, but Anchorage police say they rarely deal with cases involving a man as the victim.
It’s an issue brought to light by Thursday’s arraignment of an Eagle River woman, accused of sexually assaulting and blackmailing an Air Force airman visiting Alaska for training.
Agencies that deal with domestic and sexual violence say it’s a major issue that is rarely reported -- one they say the public needs to know about. It’s a kind of violence that isn’t about physical power, and victims often don’t fight back.
“Often people feel like they’re the cause of the problem,” said Melissa Emmal, of Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis. “So if I’m a victim, I’m thinking, ‘I’m causing this abuse, I’m not perfect enough, I’m not worthy enough’ and that it’s my fault. Then I may feel guilty like I should be able to solve this problem.”
But for men, when they are the victim, reporting a problem isn’t always easy.
“A man who is being abused may feel like they should be able to stop the violence because they’re a man,” said Emmal. “Because society really tells us that there are gender roles and that men should be strong and self-sufficient.”
Standing Together Against Rape Director Keeley Olson says the community needs to know the truth about sex offenders.
“We definitely want it to be known in the community,” said Olson. “That yes, women can be sex offenders and yes, adult men can be victims.”
Both AWAIC and STAR want people to know that they aren’t alone, that they offer a number of services for anyone who is experiencing abuse -- men included.
“There are people in this community that care about the fact that you’re unsafe and experiencing this (violence),” said Emmal. “It’s not your fault if you’re being abused, regardless of your gender.”
“We do serve men with all our services including our shelter,” said Emmal. “Support and education groups, individual case management and financial assistance. All of those things are available for anyone who is experiencing abuse.”
Looking forward into the future, the only way to get safe, is for people to come forward.
“Violence perpetuates because there’s silence around it,” said Emmal.
“It’s something we don’t talk about and that’s why it grows.”
Copyright © 2013, KTUU-TV