Thousands of Alaskans, in more than 120 communities, chose respect Thursday, openly embracing Gov. Sean Parnell’s anti-domestic violence campaign through marching.
Parnell came into office in 2009, making fighting Alaska’s epidemic an administration priority.
Among the hundreds marching from Palmer’s MTA Events Center to the Palmer Community Center Train Depot were officials with the Valley's only domestic violence shelter.
”We have a 32 bed shelter," says Alaska Family Services Communication Director Beck Stoppa. “We served more than 100 people in last 12 months. And we're usually at capacity.”
Stoppa says the Palmer shelter has not received any new funding since a series of Parnell's anti-domestic violence bills starting passing the legislature.
"It's not just about getting people into our shelter, or making room for them during those times when we might be at capacity, but acknowledging the problem,” Stoppa says. “And letting those who are suffering know that there's a place to go and help is available."
Corrections Dept. Commissioner Joe Schmidt, who also was part of the Palmer rally, says talking about domestic violence, a typically taboo Alaskan topic, goes to the heart of the "Choose Respect" campaign.
“The more people that talk about it, and feel free and safe reporting, are going to bring it to the forefront,” Schmidt says. “And a possible reason we have the high numbers is because people haven't been able to talk about it as much as they should.”
2012 marks the third year “Choose Respect” rallies were held across the state.