ANCHORAGE -

The state of Alaska has long fought to reverse the high numbers of domestic violence, abuse and sexual assault at home.

An annual rally in Anchorage Thursday, the face of Gov. Sean Parnell's "Choose Respect" initiative against domestic violence and sexual assault, encouraged more people to speak out against a problem some call an epidemic.

Dozens of people marched from the Park Strip to Town Square carrying signs of support for victims of abuse and messages of action.

Bagpipes and drums added to the vocal support for victims who carry emotional scars that aren't so visible.

Close to 60 percent of women in Alaska will experience sexual violence or intimate partner violence in their lifetimes, according to statistics from the University of Alaska Anchorage's Justice Center.

Thursday’s event sought to do more than draw awareness to the problem -- it also encouraged action.

“We have court systems, we have police, we have law enforcement, and no amount of funding those things will change our culture if average people aren't willing to step in and get involved,” said Melissa Emmal, the deputy director of Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis Inc.

Across the state, 170 Alaska communities participated in "Choose Respect" rallies on Thursday.