Advocates for domestic violence victims came together Monday to mark the begininng of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Alaska.
The event, at the Anchorage Museum, kicked off this year's theme of "Shed the Light," which hopes to bring domestic violence as an issue out into the open.
"When we say 'shed the light,' we want people to talk about what's happening in abusive relationships. We want victims to know they have resources and support and the community is not going to turn them away," said Suzi Pearson, the executive director of Abused Women's Aid in Crisis.
"One of the biggest problems in an abusive relationship is the isolation. An abuser will make sure a victim isn't able to talk to their family, friends. Without that ability to reach out and get support it's incredibly difficult," she said.
The event included representatives from the Governor's office, the Municipality of Anchorage, and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
But more fitting with the theme, a domestic abuse survivor shed light on her experiences.
Connie Kanen says it's hard to convince someone to realize they need help, and that they have to realize it on their own, but support can help them do that.
"I had shame for over a decade and it was my life coach, my therapist who encouraged me to (take action). She knew I would have to come to this realization on my own. She encouraged me to write it down, and she didn't tell me what I needed to do, but by the end of a few months, it was pretty clear to me things had to change," Kanen said in an interview after the event.
Both Kanen and Pearson agree that listening to someone who is a victim of abuse will help them.
"The one thing I would tell people is listen, and don't judge," Pearson said. "People start to say, 'you should do this, you should do that' and try to solve the problem. It's not their problem to solve. It's something the victim needs to make the decision on how they're going to go about it."
"Give them the tools that they need to see the light themselves and then hopefully they'll come to it," Kanen said. "You can never force somebody to see it."
AWAIC has a 24-7 crisis line for anyone impacted by domestic violence. That number is (907) 272-0100.