Law enforcement, village public safety officers and advocates from several communities across Alaska spent the week in Anchorage, learning how to educate children and adults about domestic violence and sexual assault prevention.
Training through the "My Body... My Life..." program taught participants how to spread a message of self protection and self-esteem to others in their community. The program focuses on role-playing, presentations and practice to teach instructors-in-training how to change attitudes about the issue that is widely known as an epidemic in Alaska.
Rebecca Hamon is an advocate from Naknek. When instructors with the program visited the school there, she attended as a student. Now, she's learning how to be an instructor.
"My initial goal is just to bring it back to my own community, maybe have it available in our school every year and then see if some of the other school districts are interested as well," said Hamon.
Alaska State Trooper Abraham Garcia also attended the training. He has worked as a trooper in Kotzebue for six years. He says awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence is one message he will share in Kotzebue.
"Maybe we can prevent all of it by making these girls or boys aware of what else they can do to help themselves not become a victim," said Garcia.
The program does not only focus on empowering women, but also includes training specifically developed for teenage boys and men. It addresses relationships, boundaries, communication and intervention.
"Just prosecuting cases is really not enough," said Hamon. "What we really need to do is change the culture and the way people think."