Take a stand against domestic violence.
CHOOSE RESPECT Thank you for ‘Choosing Respect’ Respect and for asking our neighbors to do the same. More than that, the men who lent their good names and faces to this campaign heard the same praise. Alaska is a dangerous place for women and children, but because of this community conversation we all know a bit more about what we can do to end this plague. We all know more about how violence impacts children’s ability to learn. We know that when violence happens in a home it hurts everyone in the family and that damage ripples through our whole community. Although our two-month campaign wraps up at Alaska Family Services annual meeting March 1, we encourage each of you to keep talking about respect and the important role it plays in our community.
HOOS C E EN
For the past eight weeks, our community has engaged in a conversation about respect. We’ve talked about it with each other. It’s come up at community meetings. And if you’ve read any Sunday issue of Frontiersman this year, you’ve no doubt seen our Valley Men Choose Respect Campaign. For the first time, this year we have partnered with Alaska Family Services to shine a light on ways each of us can Choose Respect as we go about our daily lives. We tied our effort to the statewide movement initiated by Gov. Sean Parnell. But we can’t take credit for this idea. The notion to ask eight men in our community to step forward to lend their faces, names and stories to this campaign is the brain child of Alaska Family Services staff members. Our organizations pooled our resources and worked together to get our neighbors talking about fundamental changes we can each make that will yield safer communities for all of us. We’re proud of the conversation that this partnership produced. During the past eight weeks we’ve heard from many of you thanking us for our efforts to Choose
Sincerely, Heather A. Resz Managing editor Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman
Valley men — be courageous! BY AL STRAWN
his fall I attended a concert in Anchorage by the group Casting Crowns. They started their performance in dramatic fashion with the song titled “Courageous!” We were made to be courageous We were made to lead the way We could be the generation That finally breaks the chain About the same time as the concert, I was asked to join in a campaign called Valley Men Choose Respect. This is an initiative of Alaska Family Services and part of a statewide effort led by Gov. Sean Parnell to end the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska. Did you know that nearly 60 percent of Alaska women have either been sexually or physically assaulted, or physically threatened in their lifetime? Both boys and girls suffer from sexual abuse; 35 percent of children evaluated at child advocacy centers for sexual abuse are boys. From 2003 to 2010, the average rate of reported forcible rape was 2.5 times higher in Alaska than nationally. We were warriors on the front lines Standing, unafraid But now we’re watchers on the sidelines While our families slip away Where are you, men of courage? You were made for so much more You might be wondering why this column is in the newspaper. What does this have to do with you? The answer is this breakdown of families and the fallout from domestic
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violence and sexual abuse is a problem that impacts our whole community. Broken families, by definition, almost always experience hardship. We must all promote respect for ourselves and for others. We must break the silence and send a strong message of hope and healing to victims and survivors. It is time to get involved and work together. This is our resolution Our answer to the call We will love our wives and children We refuse to let them fall We will reignite the passion That we buried deep inside May the watchers become warriors Let the men of God arise We were made to be courageous And we’re taking back the fight We were made to be courageous And it starts with us tonight I invite all of you, but especially the men, to join me, Alaska Family Services and other community leaders in taking a stand against domestic violence and sexual assault. Let’s unite in protecting our families and preserving our community always and in all ways. If you would like to know the rest of the lyrics to the song “Courageous,” simply Google “courageous lyrics casting crowns” or, better yet, type those words in the YouTube search box. If you want to know more about Valley Men Choose Respect, feel free to give me a call. I’d love to talk to you about it. Al Strawn is CEO of Matanuska Valley Federal Credit Union. Contact him at email@example.com, or (907) 745-9140.
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Where are you, men of courage? BY HEATHER A. RESZ Frontiersman.com
Safety is an illusion Al Strawn enjoyed for most of his adult life. After a boyhood spent in Oregon, he came to the Valley in 1975 — fresh out of college — to work at Matanuska Valley Federal Credit Union. He began to pay attention to domestic violence after seeing the film “Courageous” and hearing the band “Casting Crowns” perform in Anchorage. The contemporary Christian band opened their Anchorage show with a song titled “Courageous,” recorded and released to promote the film by the same name. The lyrics of the song are a challenge to men to take back their place as protectors, as leaders.
We were warriors on the front lines Standing, unafraid But now we’re watchers on the sidelines While our families slip away Where are you, men of courage? You were made for so much more • Did you know that nearly 60 percent of Alaska women have either been sexually or physically assaulted, or physically threatened in their lifetime?
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• Did you know both boys and girls suffer from sexual abuse? A full 35 percent of children evaluated at child advocacy centers for sexual abuse are boys. • Did you know that from 2003 to 2010, the average rate of reported forcible rape was 2.5 times higher in Alaska than nationally? These grisly statistics weren’t something Strawn understood about his state and community, until recently. For Strawn, the final call to stand came from Donn Bennice, president and CEO of Alaska Family Services Inc., who invited Strawn to be one of eight Valley men featured in an ad campaign challenging men to Choose Respect. “I thought about it and I prayed on it and said ‘yes,’” Strawn said. As he considered the issue, he said he began to see breakdown of families and the fallout from domestic violence and sexual abuse as problems that impact the whole community. “We must all promote respect for ourselves and for others. We must break the silence and send a strong message of hope and healing to victims and survivors. It is time to get involved and work together,” he wrote in an opinion piece that accompanies this story. Beyond his longtime role as chief executive officer of MVFCU since 1981, Strawn also is active as a community leader in a number of ways. He serves on the board of Matanuska Telephone Association, works with United Way, and he said he recently began volunteering at Heart Reach. There, he said, he listens to young men who are struggling with life and what it means to be a good parent, a good father. “I invite all of you, but especially the men, to join me, Alaska Family Services and other community leaders in taking a stand against domestic violence and sexual assault,” Strawn says. “Let’s unite in protecting our families and preserving our community always and in all ways.”
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Domestic Violence – from a male prosecutor’s perspective BY ROMAN KALYTIAK A man kills his father and seriously injures his father’s fiancée with a machete after a family gettogether. A son stabs his mother to death after they eat dinner. A mother sets fire to her house and kills one of her sons, who cannot escape the smoke and flames because she drugged him. A man shakes his infant to death. A husband shoots his wife in the back with a shotgun, paralyzing her. These are but a few of the domestic violence cases I have handled in my 25 years as a prosecutor. Most of these defendants did not have significant criminal histories. Fortunately for all of us, most “typical” domestic violence cases do not involve such an extreme level of violence and injury. Whether the criminal justice system can reduce or prevent domestic violence is questionable. Most states rely on coercion — in the form of criminal prosecution — to change behaviors and attitudes. In many countries, a lot of money is invested, and rightly so, in the prosecution of offenders and support of victims of domestic violence. However, barely a fraction of that investment goes into preventive work. As with most societal problems, the criminal justice system cannot offer a complete solution, especially when it comes to preventing domestic violence. Domestic violence is a controversial subject. I have been exposed to many viewpoints regarding domestic violence: from victims, defendants, defense attorneys, judges, social workers, police officers, jurors and members of the public. Most defendants in domestic violence are men. Many of those men learned from people around them — fathers, uncles and other male role models, or from a society that expects men to be aggressive under certain circumstances. Some of them cannot see the wrong in domestic violence, do not take responsibility for their violent behavior, blame the victim and often re-offend, while others are truly remorseful, accept responsibility and are rehabilitated. Decisions to change behavior are often personal decisions, not necessarily influenced by sentences handed down by judges. Some people feel the system is unfair to men, especially laws or police policies that mandate arrest, resulting in family separation, financial burdens and humiliation. When defendants are arrested in questionable cases, the Page 4
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buck is passed to the prosecutors and, at times, those cases are resolved by a plea to a lesser charge. Defense attorneys have noted that their clients often take pleas, even when the evidence is weak, to reunite the family, restore rights or reduce legal costs. The notion that laws need to protect victims trapped in a cycle of domestic violence offends some women who feel patronized. Prosecutors see cases in which men beat innocent women, cases in which men are victims and cases in which both the man and woman are violent. Male victims of domestic violence often do not call the police to report the crime. Male and female victims alike often recant after the case is charged. Abuse of alcohol and other drugs, financial difficulties and mental disorders are often factors in domestic violence cases. Most people who are violent don’t believe they are violent, because violence has been their reality from an early age. Domestic violence is often seen as a female victim/ male perpetrator problem. Prosecutors and police often see it that way because most of our defendants are men, though evidence and cases have demonstrated both men and women are capable of domestic violence. I see many men in court who have done wrong. On the other hand, outside the courtroom in our community, I see many more men working hard, taking care of their children and being gentle with their wives and girlfriends. While the protective instinct in men is recognized, the nurturing impulse in men is underrated. Focusing on what we men can do, a re-evaluation of the concept of manhood in this day and age, in my opinion, is part of the solution. “Manning up” today must include a reassessment of how we perceive ourselves as men and stepping forward from the sidelines regarding issues like domestic violence. Today, men have a greater opportunity to take an active role in parenting, preserving the family and setting an example for the next generation. Creating new laws that enhance sentences has often been the legislative fix for significant societal problems, and police and prosecutors are expected to step up. Men standing together against domestic violence, maintaining proper attitudes and teaching boys and young men how to behave, however, can be much better preventive medicine than putting people on probation or in jail. Roman Kalytiak has been the Palmer district attorney since January 1999. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2013
‘It’s not just the law — it’s the right thing to do’ BY HEATHER A. RESZ Frontiersman.com
Roman Kalytiak has had a ringside seat to see the misery caused by domestic violence. “It is a lot broader than a man hitting a woman,” he said. “It takes on a lot of different forms.” A man kills his father and seriously injures his father’s fiancée with a machete after a family get-together. A son stabs his mother to death after they eat dinner. A mother sets fire to her house and kills one of her sons, who cannot escape the smoke and flames because she drugged him. A man shakes his infant to death. A husband shoots his wife in the back with a shotgun, paralyzing her. These are but a few of the domestic violence cases Kalytiak has handled in his 25 years as a prosecutor. He came to Alaska from Michigan in 1997 and has been the Palmer District Attorney since January 1999. He said he knows prosecution is not a cure for domestic violence, but that it is a necessary component. The state devotes a lot of resources to prosecuting domestic violence cases: it pays for prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys to conduct trials and sentencing hearings, and then it pays for incarceration and probation, if defendants are found guilty. But it’s not an effective way to fight domestic violence, Kalytiak said, because ulti-
mately it’s up to the individuals to change their behaviors. Some experts say violence is a pattern of behavior learned by children between the ages of birth and 10. Children who grow up with violence also develop differently emotionally, socially and cognitively. Sadly, researchers also say children who experienced abuse and neglect are more likely to grow up to perpetrate domestic violence and sexual abuse in adulthood. As a father and a longtime community member, Kalytiak said it was natural for him to speak out and urge others to Choose Respect. Gov. Sean Parnell started the statewide Choose Respect campaign, and he’s made it a priority for his attorney general and district attorneys like Kalytiak who work for him statewide. “We have an interest in curtailing domestic violence,” Kalytiak said. “No matter how you slice it, it benefits us and the community to be involved in prevention.” Encouraging his peers to think about what they can do to reduce violence is one way to build on the existing foundation of Valley men who Choose Respect every day, Kalytiak said. “Time for all of us to think about this and what each of us can do about it,” he said. Merely choosing respect is no panacea, Kalytiak cautioned. “There will always be good times and tough times,” he said. “It’s a matter of trying. You may stumble, but keep trying.”
Choosing respect since 1947
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Men, make a resolution to Choose Respect in 2013 BY CRAIG A. THORN “I am resolved no longer to linger, charmed by the world’s delight; things that are higher, things that are nobler, these have allured by sight.” — Palmer Hartsough As I contemplate the words of one of my favorite hymns of praise, I am reminded of my New Year’s resolutions for 2013 and am encouraged to think on things higher and nobler. I am resolved to set my sights higher in a number of areas of my life. Specifically, I am resolved to be more patient with my children, to be more serving of my wife, and be more dedicated and committed in my business and professional affairs. I want to be a man of integrity in my work, in my relationships and in my spiritual life. Along those lines, as a community resolution in 2013, I invite the men of the Mat-Su Valley to resolve to honor Gov. Sean Parnell’s Choose Respect campaign and begin to put an end to the domestic violence and sexual assault that has plagued our state, our community and our homes. In my personal and professional life and as an elder at church, I regularly see the ravages of alcohol and drugs on the family and, in particular, the devastating effects of domestic violence, sexual assault and child sex abuse. As a community, we MUST do a better job of teaching our men. By example, we must role-model for our young men the idea that it is never acceptable to abuse or assault another individual. And we must always treat our women and children with respect. According to information from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, there are more than 5,000 cases of domestic violence reported annually in the 49th state, and almost 75 percent of Alaskans have experienced or know someone who has experienced domestic violence or sexual assault. The 2010 Alaska Victimization Survey indicates that 58 percent of Alaska women have experienced
VALLEY MEN CHOOSE RESPECT
intimate partner or sexual violence; 70 percent of all reported sexual crimes in the United States involve children (U.S. Department of Justice). Between calendar years 2001-2011, the Alaska State Troopers responded to and/or investigated 40,796 domestic violence offenses, responded to 5,484 sexual abuse of a minor offenses and responded to and/or investigated 4,483 sexual assault offenses (Department of Public Safety). These statistics are appalling. Given this epidemic level of violence in our communities, I have joined together with other Mat Su businessmen and community leaders, in concert with Alaska Family Services, in an effort to promulgate the idea of honor and respect toward our women and children, expanding on the idea that domestic violence, sexual abuse and assault are never an appropriate response. If you are currently in an abusive relationship, seek help and counseling available through your church or Alaska Family Services. As a husband, consistently love and honor your wife, especially in front of the children. If you are a father, model appropriate behavior and mentor your young sons about their future relationships with women. Get involved in mentoring youth. Demonstrate positive leadership within your home. If you have anger management issues, contact a counselor at Alaska Family Services. Talk to a trusted friend about your struggles and hold one another accountable. Collectively, these actions will begin to make a difference and begin to put an end to the cycle of abuse and despair that is afflicting our families. So men, my challenge to you in 2013 is that you make a personal resolution to Choose Respect. My prayer is that by each man individually taking a stand and choosing respect we can collectively make a positive impact in our community. Together, we can eliminate abuse and inculcate the notion that healthy relationships between men and women are the norm, not the exception. Won’t you join with me and resolve to honor and respect the women and children in your life? Craig A. Thorn is a Wasilla bank manager and regional senior vice president at First National Banka Alaska. He also serves as an elder at Wasilla Christian Church. He can be reached at (907) 315-3712 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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‘There’s a whole lack of hope out there’ BY GREG JOHNSON Frontiersman.com
Choosing respect for one’s spouse and family is more than a moral issue for Craig Thorn, it’s a spiritual one as well. Thorn, senior vice president for First National Bank Alaska and nearly 28-year Valley resident, said domestic violence goes against the moral and Biblical mandates of what it means for men to honor their loved ones. “I think in Ephesians, chapter five, it says women submit to your husbands. And it goes on to say (to) men to love their wives,” Thorn said. “If you loved your wife that way and were willing to lay down your life for her, she would honor you and respect you.” Born and raised in Seward, Thorn moved to the Valley in 1985 and has been in charge of First National Bank’s operations in Palmer, Wasilla and Eagle River for 18 years. He’s also a devout Christian and an elder at Wasilla Christian Church. He said he’s willing to be a public voice in the Valley Men Choose Respect campaign, spearheaded by Alaska Family Services, “No. 1, because Donn Bennice (Alaska Family Services CEO) asked me to,” Thorn said. Also, “in my personal life, I have some experience with (domestic violence), and as an elder at Wasilla Christian Church, I see the ravages of it. … I see families in crisis.” When counseling men and families struggling with domestic violence, Thorn said he sees more than just physical abuse, and he said he believes greater public awareness of the problem will help men start to break their familial cycles of abuse.
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“There’s got to be a general awareness,” he said. “It’s like a lot of things, and it’s going to take a generation. It’s like the anti-smoking campaign. You go back to the 1950s, everybody smoked. I think we’re hoping to change overall attitudes in our community. It’s not acceptable and it’s not normal to be in a violent situation in the family. It may not be violent abuse struggles; a lot of physical abuse and violence and sexual abuse comes out of alcohol and drugs.” Along with abusers recognizing the wrongness of their behavior and acting to make a change, Thorn said he also sees a disturbing after-effect from those who suffer abuse. “The victims themselves sometimes talk themselves into thinking ‘I deserved that’ and ‘really, he does love me,’ and start rationalizing how they should stay in an abusive relationship,” he said. While Thorn said turning to church or faith can be a powerful first step in asking for help, he said he understands not everyone holds those spiritual beliefs. If that’s the case, he recommends contacting Alaska Family Services. Valley Men Choose Respect is a worthwhile chance for community leaders to step up and lead by example, Thorn said. “As leading men in the community, if we stand up and start with us, hopefully others will follow,” he said, adding that to make a significant difference, domestic violence education must start at an early age. “That’s part of it. We’ve really got to start with the young kids. Young boys are watching their fathers and determining in their minds what is normal. It’s going to take a generation or two to change the behaviors (and instill) that it’s not acceptable. Right now, it’s out of control. There’s a whole lack of hope out there.”
VALLEY MEN CHOOSE RESPECT
Reducing violent crimes against women and violence in general BY LEBRON MCPHAIL A group of eight Valley men have “chosen respect” over violence. Choose Respect is one of the governor’s campaigns to raise awareness of domestic violence in the state of Alaska. Over the next few weeks, you may see articles from campaign participants addressing specific problems that communities throughout the nation have encountered regarding violent crimes toward women. Even though Alaska currently has a handful of men addressing this issue, we know that there are many more men who Choose Respect toward woman in their everyday lives. This message is not exclusive to Alaska. Our goal is to totally eliminate violence. To do this, efforts will be made to educate the public in understanding what defines domestic violence, then identifying how to stop the cycle of the repeat offender. This process begins at home with men modeling appropriate and respectful behavior toward women. When children see respectful behavior being modeled at home, it translates to positive interactions in their lives. Domestic violence is defined as intimate partner violence. It is a pattern of coercive behavior that is used by one person to gain power and control over another. It may include the use of physical and sexual violence, verbal and emotional abuse or stalking and economic abuse. Sexual, emotional and psychological intimidation may also constitute domestic violence. One alarming statistic reveals that Anchorage and Fairbanks are the most dangerous cities for women in Alaska. Forbes magazine commented that Anchorage and Fairbanks are the second and third highest cities for rape in the nation, making them two of the nation’s most dangerous cities for women. This data is staggering. In 2004, the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center reviewed 1,281 cases involving domestic violence from the Alaska Department of Law. They looked at reports of domestic violence made to Alaska State Troopers in three geographical areas (Western Alaska, Interior Alaska and Southcentral Alaska). The report states that the Palmer/ Wasilla area had reported 237 domestic violence incidents, second to Fairbanks, which reported 295 incidences. Additionally, this report confirms a high rate of alcohol abuse was the one common denominator suspected in these specific cases. According to an article published by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than one out of every three Page 8
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American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped in their lifetimes. In addition, more than three out of every four American Indian and Alaska Native women will be physically assaulted in their lives. Lead researcher and UAA Justice Center Director Andre Rosay also conducted a study in 2010. The results of this show 59 percent of women polled confirmed they had experienced physical violence or threats from a partner or sexual violence from someone at some point in their lives. This would equate to an estimated 145,000 Alaska women who have been victimized. Moreover, children who witness sexual assault or domestic violence are prone to repeating these acts. This is disheartening. What makes this even more alarming is that many domestic violence and sexual assaults go unreported when women are unable to report the information to law enforcement for whatever reason(s). Also, services for women victims of rape or assault may be limited in remote areas, creating an even greater and more compelling need for raising awareness and providing resources. Although the focus for this fascinating data has been on women, we know that our children are the gateway for breaking the cycle of violence. The Mat-Su Borough School District is doing a number of things to address safe and respectful behavior with our students and staff. Safe and Civil Schools has partnered with MSBSD to create schools where respect is fostered and students are connected to our schools. MSBSD is also nearing our second School Climate Survey that has provided administrators data on how connected students and staff feel toward their schools. These initiatives are allowing us to foster environments where students are supported regardless of their past, present or future home circumstances. We are striving for our students to make the connection for what appropriate and respectful behavior looks like at school and at home. We could use your help. Take a stand and join Alaska Family Services in its effort and ours to reduce violence in Alaska and minimize these outrageous numbers that stigmatize our state. I am asking men to take a stand and join the Choose Respect initiative. Will you be the next individual, organization, faith-based group, health service or company to stand up to reduce domestic violence, sexual assault or physical violence against women? Will you be the next son, brother, father, uncle or grandfather to stop the cycle of abuse? Help us to reduce the statistics that have raised Alaska to the top of the chart in a very unflattering and unappealing way. Do not wait to get involved. We invite you to join our network, access tools, promote respect and assist in strengthening our communities in this great state. Lebron McPhail is the executive director of instruction for the Mat-Su Borough School District. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2013
Choosing respect begins at home BY HEATHER A. RESZ Frontiersman.com
Did you know Alaska isn’t a safe place for women and children? It came as a surprise to Lebron McPhail, a tall, broad-shouldered Valley man with an air of gentleness and authority surrounding him. He’s a husband, father of two daughters and one son and the executive director of instruction for the Mat-Su Borough School District. Since coming to the district in 1984, he has taught in the classroom, coached football and served as an assistant principal and principal. In the classroom and on the football field, McPhail is a role model for generations of Valley men. He said he joined the Valley Men Choose Respect campaign at the request of Superintendent Deena Paramo and Alaska Family Services Executive Director Donn Bennice. As part of the campaign, McPhail was asked to contribute an opinion piece to the Frontiersman. The research he read alarmed him as a husband, father and an educator. “Seeing the numbers, painted a frightening picture,” he said. “When I read it, it was shocking for me to see that women aren’t safe here.” He said he knew Alaska’s rates of child abuse, sexual assault and other forms of domestic violence are well above the national average, but it wasn’t until he took a look at the data that the terrible truth sunk in. University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center Director Andre Rosay conducted one of those studies in 2010. The results show “59 percent of women polled confirmed they had experienced physical violence or threats from a partner or sexual violence from someone at some point in their lives,” McPhail wrote in his opinion piece, which appears alongside this story.
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But violence between adult partners also harms the children in the family, he said. “Classroom teachers are the first people in the school to see the ripple effects of violence in the home,” McPhail said. “Maybe Johnny or Susie was a jubilant individual, but when domestic violence comes into that child’s life, it interferes with their education and development. Our students are resilient and are able to bounce back from adversity.” Lebron McPhail He issued a challenge to all adults to model behaviors they want Valley children to adopt. “We need to honor and treat each other in a respectful manner, no matter the gender,” McPhail said. While domestic violence is something most people tend to think of in a physical form, he said it can also include sexual, emotional and economic intimidation and control between intimate partners. “You shouldn’t be abused by words,” McPhail said. “You shouldn’t be abused physically. You can have a conversation. You shouldn’t be physically abusive to a woman no matter what the issue might be.” When he moved to the Valley, McPhail said there were 5,000 students enrolled in the district. Now there are around 17,500 students. That’s just one of the changes he’s seen in his 28 years living, working and raising his family here. “We may not know our neighbors now,” he said, highlighting one obvious change from the Valley’s younger, less populated days. Whether at home, at school or on the bus — everywhere — appropriate behavior boils down to respect, he said. McPhail said the district is seeing positive results from its efforts in school to reduce violence. “This process begins at home with men modeling appropriate and respectful behavior toward women,” he wrote. “When children see respectful behavior being modeled at home, it translates to positive interactions in their lives.”
“This process begins at home with men modeling appropriate and respectful behavior toward women,” he wrote. “When children see respectful behavior being modeled at home, it translates to positive interactions in their lives.”
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It takes a stronger man to protect children BY BILL HOGAN I want to talk about domestic violence and kids and the impact domestic violence has on a child’s emotional, behavioral and physical health as he or she grows into adulthood. Many of you are already aware of the association between a child being exposed to abuse and the increased likelihood that child will either be a perpetrator or victim of abuse as an adult. But we are learning that exposure to abuse, violence and home dysfunction increases the possibility that child will have mental health problems — particularly depression – substance abuse disorders — both alcohol and drugs – will be more inclined to smoke, and are more likely to have lung problems, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. The “Adverse Childhood Experiences” (ACE) study conducted in the mid to late 1990s in Southern California by Drs. Felitti and Anda, under the auspices of Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showed a strong relationship between abuse (physical, emotional and sexual), exposure to domestic violence and other risk factors, like mental illness, substance disorders and criminal behavior, and the kinds of emotional, behavioral and, yes, even physical problems listed above. ACEs affect multiple generations of people in Alaska and in the Mat-Su Borough. In all likelihood, ACEs may begin to explain why we have such high rates of abuse, assault, mental health and alcohol and drug problems — as well as chronic disease. With this increasingly obvious connection between these adverse experiences for kids and the multitude of problems we’ve mentioned, it’s essential that we
VALLEY MEN CHOOSE RESPECT
The “Adverse Childhood Experiences” (ACE) study conducted in the mid to late 1990s in Southern California by Drs. Felitti and Anda, under the auspices of Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showed a strong relationship between abuse (physical, emotional and sexual), exposure to domestic violence and other risk factors, like mental illness, substance disorders and criminal behavior, and the kinds of emotional, behavioral and, yes, even physical problems. intervene when we can and stop the cycle of violence now. This is why I think the Valley Men Choose Respect initiative is so important. Not only do we have an obligation to our community to provide the kinds of services and supports adults need to be better problem-solvers — so we don’t have to resort to violence — but it is imperative that we stop the violence for the sake of our kids and young people. If we do nothing we will continue to be a state and community with poor health and unacceptably high rates in all the things where we don’t want to be leading the nation. Please join me in supporting the work of my colleagues, friends and neighbors who Choose Respect — if not for ourselves, then for our kids. Bill Hogan is the dean of University of Alaska Anchorage’s College of Health and the former commissioner of the state Department of Health and Social Services.
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Strong men protect children BY GREG JOHNSON Frontiersman.com
When Bill Hogan was approached to be part of the Valley Men Choose Respect campaign, he readily agreed to help combat a problem he’s spent a career trying to help solve. Part of Gov. Sean Parnell’s statewide Choose Respect effort, the Mat-Su campaign features a handful of local community leaders willing to share their personal messages to stop domestic violence in the Valley. For Hogan, that means lending his experience as dean of the University of Alaska Anchorage College of Health. But his roots are here. He’s a former CEO of Life Quest (now known as Mat-Su Health Services), former commissioner for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and former director of the state Division of Behavioral Health. “I’m a social worker by trade, and I was involved when the governor began developing the sexual assault and domestic violence initiative,” Hogan said. That Alaska ranks No. 1 in the United States per capita for domestic violence is not acceptable, Hogan said. While there are reported instances of both sexes assaulting and abusing each other, most of the violence is perpetrated by men. For many of those who exhibit violence in the home, it’s a matter of modeling behaviors learned from their fathers, Hogan said.
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“I think a lot of it is that,” he said. “Then there’s another part of it that is personal responsibility, and part of it is to teach people how to handle conflict without resulting to violence. Unfortunately, our rates are way too high. I feel like I have a responsibility as a community member (to speak out).” That personal responsibility is key, Hogan said, because while those who experience domestic violence as children are more likely to abuse as adults, acting on those instincts is a choice. “Men have a responsibility to look at alternatives rather than resorting to emotional or physical abuse,” he said. “You have to show respect, and it’s a choice. There’s a lot of work to do, but if men step up and own the problem, that increases the likelihood they’ll take responsibility to stop.” Along with trying to break the cycle of abuse with kids, choosing respect also involves changing the “it’s-not-my-business” practice of ignoring domestic violence when it’s witnessed, Hogan said. “It’s time for neighbors to speak up,” he said. “They’re not blind, and they can hear what’s going on, for the most part.” In his accompanying Choose Respect column on this page, Hogan discusses how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) “affect multiple generations of people in Alaska and in the Mat-Su Borough. In all likelihood, ACEs may begin to explain why we have such high rates of abuse, assault, mental health and alcohol and drug problems — as well as chronic disease.”
you are his cure Juvenile Diabetes affects millions and causes long-term complications like blindness and kidney failure. Not to mention pain and worry no
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kid should have to live with. But the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is closer than ever to a cure. Your help makes life-saving research possible. Call 1.800.533.CURE or visit www.jdrf.org. A CFC Participant. Provided as a public service.
VALLEY MEN CHOOSE RESPECT
Adults words’ must match actions BY PAUL PIKE I believe everyone deserves to feel safe, and that domestic violence should not be tolerated by anyone, male or female. The value of respect is deeply engrained in the cultural teachings, which are an everyday practice in many indigenous cultures, and are a part of everything we do here in Chickaloon. Whether we know it or not, everyone is a role model to someone. As adults, we must match our words with our actions for them to have any real meaning. We encourage and role model respect for the “Life Givers,” which are the mothers and grandmothers, as well as respect for the “Protectors of Life,” the men. We strive to bring this message to our children who attend our Ya Ne Dah Ah tribal school. We teach the children about our traditional values, and in turn they learn to feel safe, and they feel our respect and love for them. We teach non-violent communication. We teach about the destructiveness of bullying, and how to be a friend or ally instead. We role model all this into our community gatherings, such as our weekly Elder’s Lunch, where the whole commu-
VALLEY MEN CHOOSE RESPECT
We encourage and role model respect for the “Life Givers,” which are the mothers and grandmothers, as well as respect for the “Protectors of Life,” the men. nity comes together not just to share food and learn about healthy living, but to pass on the teachings of respect for one another through actions and attitudes. Whether we are talking about problems and solutions in parenting classes, or discussing ways to build healthier relationships, domestic violence is talked about openly. The key point is that domestic violence will not be tolerated in our community, and we will continue to strive to demonstrate this on a daily basis in the ways that we support and relate to each other. Paul Pike is the Family Preservation Planner Case Worker for Chickaloon Village Traditional Council of the Athabascan Nation. He originally comes from the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation from Newfoundland, Canada. He and wife DeEtte have five daughters and 10 grandchildren. He is also the main composer for the contemporary Native American music group “Medicine Dream,” which promotes wellness for communities and individuals. For more information, visit medicinedream.com.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2013
‘The truth is, nothing changes if nothing changes’ BY GREG JOHNSON Frontiersman.com
Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate. That’s part of the message Paul Pike hopes people can take to heart as he participates in the Valley Men Choose Respect project. In accordance with Gov. Sean Parnell’s Choose Respect initiative, Alaska Family Services and the Frontiersman have partnered with community leaders to put familiar faces to work in a Valley effort to reduce domestic violence. As a family preservation planner and case worker for Chickaloon Village Traditional Council, Pike said he knows violence is something that crosses all class, gender, racial and economic barriers. “This is not a once-a-day or once-a-year type of thing for us,” he said. “This is something we practice daily. Whether it’s in the school system, the value system we’re passing on, we’re teaching about respect for women, the lifegivers, and also men as protectors of life. We extend that to our Elders Lunch Program. We not only talk about it, we’re demonstrating respect. “We’re coming from the idea that it doesn’t matter which gender you are, no one has the right to be abused. There are a lot of males in this community who are actually abused, and unfortunately there’s a lack of resources for them as well.” A large part of breaking the cycle is for men and women to not only talk to their children about respecting others and the dangers of domestic violence, but also to model those behaviors, too. Some of the most powerful influences on children are the behaviors their parents and adults in their lives model for them, he said. “It’s a huge factor,” Pike said. “If you’re telling people not to do certain behaviors, if you’re not following it up with action, it’s kind of meaningless.” A good example is smoking, he said. Many times, parents who smokes will repeatedly tell their children not to smoke. But seeing the parent do it makes the child more likely to as well. The same holds true for other behaviors, Pike said. Part of the solution is personal responsibility, he said. People must first be able to admit to themselves they have a problem or need to make changes to eliminate domes-
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2013
“Nobody wants to be the one to be the whistleblower, so to speak,” he said. “But the truth is, nothing changes if nothing changes. Somebody’s got to care, and there are ways to do it. Unfortunately, that’s been the mindset for a lot of people. It’s a community issue, it’s not just individual.” tic violence from their lives. “How can we be healthy in our thought processes?” he asked rhetorically. “How can we do conflict resolution before things get to the point where people start reacting in ways that are going to affect them and everyone else negatively.” Taking that first step toward change can be difficult for men and women, Pike said. “For one, you have to recognize there’s a problem to do anything about it,” he said. “Getting people to really own their behavior and understanding where those beliefs are coming from – that’s a big process.” Some people can help identify what they’re doing wrong by asking simple questions of themselves, like: “How would I react if someone else treated my wife and/or kids this way?” Another taboo the community needs to battle is the “it’s not my business” syndrome, Pike said. “Nobody wants to be the one to be the whistleblower, so to speak,” he said. “But the truth is, nothing changes if nothing changes. Somebody’s got to care, and there are ways to do it. Unfortunately, that’s been the mindset for a lot of people. It’s a community issue, it’s not just individual.” Greg Johnson has been a journalist since 1992. He has been at the Frontiersman since June 2007.
please visit www.jdrf.org or call 1.800.533.CURE A CFC Participant Provided as a public service VALLEY MEN CHOOSE RESPECT
‘Respect starts at home — every day, all day’ Editor’s note: Matanuska Telephone Association Chief Executive Officer Greg Berberich agreed to participate in the Valley Men Choose Respect campaign, but opted to use his space to spotlight other men at MTA who also Choose Respect. Ask any number of people how they define respect and you will get a variety of answers. But all have a common theme: treat others the way you want to be treated. A life marred by domestic violence lacks respect. For most, learning about respect and how to treat others starts at an early age. And some of the most important lessons in how to show respect come from the sidelines, from the coaches who dedicate their time to teaching young men and women the value of teamwork, cooperation, responsibility and equality. It’s no surprise then, that men who have dedicated years to coaching — everything from soccer, wrestling, football, hockey and hunter safety — find themselves working together for a company that incorporates these same values into its day-to-day business. Matanuska Telephone Association is proud to support these men, who bring the lessons they teach on the field into the workplace. “Success is built by the individual choices we make every day,” said Greg Berberich, MTA’s CEO. Berberich coached elementary- and middleschool-aged children in soccer and basketball for about five years. “It’s about offering encouragement and helping them understand how the decisions they make today affect their future,” he said. Growing up with four sisters, he learned early what was acceptable behavior and what wasn’t. “You don’t hit girls, that’s Rule No. 1,” he said, “As a society, a community, we can’t turn a blind eye anymore. If we witness something, we need to stand up and say ‘this isn’t right.’” Coaching also allowed Berberich to share these values with his team, to help them bring the lessons of sportsmanship into their everyday lives — treat each other with respect and dignity while competing at your highest level. Ed Powell, retired MTA engineer, started his coaching career with girls’ soccer in 1983. Over the years, he’s lent his time and talent to coaching wrestling, football and hunter safety. Aside from the fundamentals of each sport, he encouraged his players to excel as individuals, be truthful and learn to look out for each other. He said coaching isn’t just about sports, it’s about taking the values and lessons learned as part of a team and incorporating them into everyday behavior. “Take the more difficult right, rather than the easy wrong,” said Powell. “For me, respect is a feeling, a method of payment for the people you admire.” Coaching isn’t only about what happens on the field. Page 14
VALLEY MEN CHOOSE RESPECT
Coaching is mentoring young boys and girls, helping to mold them into adults ready to take responsibility for their actions. “Sometimes mom and dad aren’t always able to be on the sidelines,” said Bert Verrall, a facilities maintenance technician with MTA who began coaching high school football in 2005. “You have to teach the kids to show up on time, be prepared and learn how to problem-solve.” Even when disagreements arise, there are ways to be cordial, to be conscientious of everyone else — to show respect, he said. “I’ve always believed an adult with a good and positive attitude is an asset in a child’s life,” said Carl Serencha, an MTA network technician who also has coached hockey and baseball. He currently referees hockey, working with kids and adults. Serencha started coaching because his own children were involved in sports. But he soon found that he enjoyed working with young kids and trying to be a positive role model for them. Growing up, he said his own role models shared this positive outlook. Serencha says respecting someone means to “first assume good, not bad,” give the other person the benefit of the doubt, recognizing that we are not all the same. Eric Anderson, MTA’s director of Engineering/Construction and Operations, also serves as president for the Wasilla Waves Swim Club and is a former soccer coach. “It’s important to see each other as equals, to recognize that each person has a right to their opinion,” he said. Coaching also allowed him to spend time with his children, he said, and to instill in them the values of treating others fairly, respecting different perspectives and working together. Anderson said he believes “a good role model is always willing to listen and teach.” “Sports translate into life lessons, extremely valuable lessons — you don’t always win,” said Jody Myers, a lineman for MTA. “Opportunities now are different for kids.” Myers said he started coaching basketball and football when his own children got involved in the sports. “No one else stepped forward, so I did,” he said. “I found I enjoyed it and I enjoyed teaching. You try and build on things that go right.” As a young man, Myers recalls the values his role models passed on to him — they invested their time, their experience and they taught him that respect is a two-way street. “Respect starts at home — every day, all day,” said Brian Fish, a draftsman for MTA. “You need to respect yourself first in order to respect others. That goes a long way.” Fish said he became involved in coaching hockey and soccer because of his love of sports and all that it offers: camaraderie, self-discipline and teaching kids. “I love to watch them learn, become better people,” Fish said. He said his parents taught him the value of a good work See RESPECT, Page 15 TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2013
Preventing domestic violence is everyone’s business BY GREG JOHNSON Frontiersman.com
If you’re a Frontiersman reader, some of these stories will be familiar: • In December 2007, a local man and his fiancée are attacked with a machete in their sleep by the man’s son, Christopher Erin Rogers Jr. The father is killed and woman, Elann “Lennie” Moren, is grievously injured. Rogers Jr. is convicted on multiple counts of first-degree murder after extending his killing spree into Anchorage. • In late 2012, a Valley couple stands trial, accused of abusing their 3-month-old daughter, leaving her with brain trauma and hemorrhaging in her eyes. • In February 2012, Andrew Thomas stood trial for stabbing a woman and beating her over the head with a sledgehammer. He was convicted of first-degree murder. • Last month, Alaska State Troopers responded to a report of an intoxicated and armed man who assaulted and tied up a woman during an argument. • Over the past several weeks, we’ve reported on multiple accounts of men accused of sexually abusing young girls. It’s a horrific list of abuse that only scratches the surface of what’s going on in those places in our community most of us don’t like to look. These are also glaring examples
of why Gov. Sean Parnell’s Choose Respect campaign is so important. In the Valley, Alaska Family Services is taking that effort to a more intimate level with Valley Men Choose Respect, an eight-week campaign that highlights the role men play in domestic violence and steps everyone can take to reduce the violence in the Valley. It’s no secret Alaska has the highest per-capita rate of domestic violence in the United States. From 2001 to 2011, troopers responded to nearly 41,000 domestic violence calls in the Last Frontier. It’s also no secret that a majority of those assaults are committed by men. Having spent a great deal of time sitting in courtrooms reporting on the results of those violent acts and perusing thousands of law enforcement reports, it’s easy to become desensitized to the problem. That reading or hearing about these crimes becomes “normal” in our lives is unacceptable. One thing that experience has shown, however, is that there is much we as a community can do to help curtail and end domestic violence in our Valley. A main theme in reading these reports of abuse is that the abuse was seldom a secret. In many cases, interviews with neighbors, coworkers, friends and extended family reveal they knew, or suspected abuse. The “it’s not my business” syndrome is a disease nearly as destructive as the abuse itself. Every person who hears
or witnesses abuse, but turns a blind eye because he or she has been taught it’s a “private family situation” or “not my business,” becomes a de-facto abuser. Acting on such suspicions isn’t pleasant, and it’s not comfortable. But how comfortable is it for the abused when he or she continues to suffer because you choose to ignore the abuse? How comfortable will it be to live with your own conscience when that trooper comes knocking on the door, informing you that your neighbor has just been seriously injured or killed, and asks if you ever heard anything? The truth is, domestic violence isn’t the deep, dark secret many make it out to be. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. If it would be dangerous to interject yourself into a situation, report it to law enforcement. If you see signs of abuse on your children’s playmates, ask the parents. If the explanation seems fishy, report it. If you are being abused, call the women’s shelter at 7468026. A perfect day at work for me would be going through our local law enforcement reports and seeing no domestic violence responses. Greg Johnson has been a journalist since 1992. He has been at the Frontiersman since June 2007.
‘Respect’ Continued from Page 14
ethic, which included respect for himself and others. “Respect can be hard to pinpoint,” Fish said. “It can be many things — respecting someone’s ability, their opinion or their space.” Like many of the men profiled here, Robbie Nash started coaching to spend more
time with his children. Nash, an engineering supervisor at MTA, coaches football and wrestling. “I realized that all kids involved need a positive role model to teach them valuable life lessons that can be learned through participation in sports,” he said. He said he models his own life after the values he tries to pass on to his players: self-
confidence, goal-setting, discipline, integrity, a strong work ethic and team work. “Praise in public, and if you have to provide constructive criticism, do that in private,” Nash said. When you treat others with respect and honesty, anything is possible, he said. As a community, we should all be invested in providing a safe environment for
Hello, future :-) Here’s to the next 60 years.
each other, free from domestic and sexual violence. With the help of men like Greg, Ed, Bert, Carl, Eric, Jody, Brian and Robbie — who have invested not only their time, but also serve as role models, mentoring the youth in our community through their coaching — we can strive toward a day when the menace of domestic violence is replaced with tolerance and respect.
mtasolutions.com TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2013
VALLEY MEN CHOOSE RESPECT
Children learn continuously: What will we teach them? BY GOV. SEAN PARNELL As governor, I have a rare privilege of meeting many wonderful Alaskans from across the state. I am moved, time and again, by their goodness, neighborliness and love of God and family. I am heartened that Alaska Family Services and the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman have put together a fine series on Valley men who are standing up to speak the truth about domestic violence and sexual assault, and to serve as role models. It does not surprise me that the Valley would take such a strong lead in this effort. Standing up to take down domestic violence and sexual assault is not easy. It takes courage to speak out. Yet we all must hold ourselves and other Alaskans to a higher standard, one that creates safe homes and strong families. It takes just one person, in one family, in one generation, to turn the tide from violence to respect. That’s why I am calling on individual Alaskans to be that person, to choose respect. Our next generation depends on us. Alaska’s children — our boys and our girls — are learning from the world around them all the time. In fact, we know that children learn continuously and voraciously. So when they see men degrading women, or treating children badly, our young people think that is how the world works. We must not impart that lesson of degradation and pretend the outcome will be magically better than the present, where nearly 60 percent of Alaska women report being assaulted by an intimate partner, sexually abused or raped. Our Choose Respect Initiative, which began in 2009, has grown from an initial 18 communities to more than 120 Alaska villages, towns and cities. We will march again this year on March 28, and I invite you to join us. The strong showing of support for the Choose Respect Initiative tells me that Alaskans realize the time has come to squarely face our biggest problem. It’s our moment to reverse the course of our epidemic. We must seize the day together. I have introduced historic legislation to better protect Alaskans and have initiated legislative funding of more prevention, intervention and protective services for survivors. Justice will be served, and perpetrators will pay a heavy price for abusing
women, men and children in our state. We’ve doubled the number of Village Public Safety Officers and expanded State Trooper support. This year, I propose adding another 15 troopers to the Railbelt communities. We’ve increased our support for shelters and are working with communities to adopt primary prevention programs, which include teaching children, so they grow up with new role models and expectations. Two examples of youth-oriented programs are Coaching Boys Into Men, for high school boys, and Girls on the Run, for third- to fifthgrade girls. Both seize upon natural opportunities that caring adults like coaches have with children to impress upon them the worth and dignity of all people. If you are a coach of a youth sports team, I recommend studying the concepts of these programs and incorporating them into your teambuilding work. My administration, with the hard work of the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, has initiated training across Alaska for coaches who wish to adopt the Coaching Boys Into Men curriculum. The council also is working on expanding Girls on the Run across Alaska. The fact that our sons and daughters are impacted by what they witness has profound implications for our state. The adverse childhood experiences brought on by exposure to family violence can lead to depression, weight problems like obesity or anorexia, self-destructive habits, drug and alcohol abuse, and a range of harmful behaviors, including perpetuating violence on friends and family. Providing a safe and loving home is the obvious first step. Being courageous and speaking up is another necessary step. Silence only condones and leads to more violence. For victims and survivors, the most important step of all is the first one: Safely seeking or asking for help. This requires a lot of courage. It is important that all Alaskans know there are support organizations that are well-qualified to help those who have been harmed or who are suffering at the hands of a family member. If you, or someone you know, needs help to escape an abuser, contact the Alaska Family Services crisis line at 746-4080 or (866) 7464080. Sean Parnell has been governor of Alaska since July 2009.
‘It’s about Alaskans standing up for other Alaskans’ BY GREG JOHNSON frontiersman.com
Gov. Sean Parnell counts himself lucky. Unlike many households in Alaska, he grew up in a home free from domestic violence and sexual abuse. “I was blessed to be raised in a home where I did not know what domestic violence and sexual assault were,” he said. “It wasn’t until I was a state House member in the middle ’90s, early ’90s, when I went on some ride-alongs with some police officers and troopers that I saw the carnage in our homes from domestic violence and sexual assault. I saw it across the economic span, from poor to rich. I saw it in all kinds of neighborhoods.” That’s why, Parnell said, he sponsored and got passed the Domestic Violence Protection Act while in the Legislature, and why he’s taken up the fight again as governor with his Choose Respect campaign. He sat down with Page 16
the Frontiersman recently for an interview about the campaign and its goals in fighting a problem that has Alaska No. 1 per capita in the United States for domestic violence and sexual assault. Being the governor of the state that leads the nation in that statistic “hurts,” Parnell said. “There’s no question that the epidemic numbers are killing Alaskans. We can talk and act to improve our economy, but if our people are hurting inside their homes, they can’t get a job or perform effectively in a job or be parents to their kids.” This year, the Frontiersman and Alaska Family Services have expanded Parnell’s effort with the Valley Men Choose Respect initiative, where local men lend their voices to the fight against domestic violence. “That’s exactly what this is about — Alaskans standing up for other Alaskans,” he said. “For men in particular to choose to be publicly accountable for using their strength to
VALLEY MEN CHOOSE RESPECT
protect and defend rather than to manipulate and control I think is awesome.” Eliminating domestic violence and sexual assault from our homes is a cultural problem, not just a legal one, Parnell said, and it starts from birth by parents modeling behaviors that don’t use violence or assault as tools to an end. “I think especially when you’re speaking about men and boys, for example, when a young boy learns to value another human being, like his mom, because of the way his dad treats his mom, I think that boy will model that behavior in his future relationships,” he said. “It’s also a bigger picture. It really is about replacing a culture of fear with one of respect and opportunity.” Parnell said the words “Choose Respect” are powerful and meaningful. First, because acting on violent feelings in inappropriate ways is a choice. Second, respect is a word that all people and cultures can understand at a root level. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2013