Lawless

Sexual Violence in Alaska

The Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica are investigating sexual violence in Alaska, and why the situation isn’t getting better.

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Unheard

Alaska has the highest rate of sexual assault in the nation. Yet it is a secret so steeped into everyday life that discussing it disrupts the norm. These women and men did not choose to be violated, but they now choose to speak about what happened.

Lawless

At least one in three Alaska villages has no local law enforcement. Sexual abuse runs rampant, public safety resources are scarce, and Governor Mike Dunleavy wants to cut the budget.

Have You Experienced Sexual Violence in Alaska? We’d Like To Hear Your Story.

The Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica have teamed up to listen. Do you work with victims, in government or law enforcement? We need to hear from you, too.

Other Entries

Her Stepfather Admitted to Sexually Abusing Her. That Wasn’t Enough to Keep Her Safe.

More than 30 years after telling a teacher that her stepfather was molesting her, Sherri Stewart is running out of time to understand why he remained free, and why she was sent back to endure more harm.

The Woman Propositioned by Alaska’s Former Lieutenant Governor Tells Her Story for the First Time

In 2018, Jody Potts was the target of misconduct from then-Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott. Two days later, he resigned, but the details of what happened have never been publicly told until now.

She Asked to Be Saved From Him. Now She’s Dead.

During the pandemic, domestic violence has killed more people than COVID-19 in rural Alaska. It’s also limited emergency services, and without shelters, many say these deaths are no surprise.

An Opportunity to Listen as Our “Unheard” Project Becomes a Museum Installation

An outdoor installation at the Anchorage Museum will feature 27 sexual violence survivors who chose to tell their stories publicly. "Without the stories, there is silence,” the museum’s director says.

For Decades, She Blamed Herself for the Abuse. Writing Her Story Was an Act of Survival. Publishing It Was an Act of Rebellion.

From early childhood, Tia Wakolee believed she was at fault for being repeatedly assaulted, then she began to chronicle her abuse on index cards arranged on her kitchen table and decided to share her truth.

Her Addiction Landed Her in a Prison Segregation Wing. The Man She Says Abused Her Lives Free.

Ricki Dahlin turned to a life of crime and drug addiction after being sexually abused as a child. “We’re broken. We’re trying to fix ourselves.”

Her Attacker Was Stopped in the Act and Arrested, but This Assault Was Only the Beginning of Her Trauma

Everything Mary Savage did in the hours after the attack was dissected on the witness stand, an experience so upsetting she vomited. But years later, she finds comfort knowing her testimony led to his conviction.

“They Were the Authority and I Didn’t Argue With Authority”

In an era before rape kits, Sue Royston decided to fight for justice even though the police doubted her, the prosecution discouraged her, and those around her dismissed her story.

The Teacher Who Returned to the Small Village Where She was Abused is Not Staying Silent

“I’m not going anywhere.” Marie Sakar tried to treat her trauma with alcohol until she learned that silence only serves to protect those who hurt her. Now, she’s back, sober and teaching in her hometown.

Trapped at Sea, Alone With Her Assailant, He Told Her “You’re Mine for the Week”

Cathleen was raped five hours into a multi-day fishing trip, where she and the captain who assaulted her were the only ones on board. She begged to be taken back to shore, but he said no, they had work to do.

Giving Voice to Alaska’s Unheard Sexual Assault Survivors

We’re publishing our most ambitious effort yet to give voice to those who have been sexually assaulted in Alaska. We have talked to hundreds of survivors over the past year who have shared their stories.

How Photographers Sought to Redefine the Image of Alaska’s Sexual Assault Survivors

In capturing these photographs, the aim was to portray the underlying courage and strength of each person and to focus on who they had become.

Here’s What Experts Say to Do After Experiencing Sexual Assault

We consulted six professionals in Alaska who work with survivors of sexual assault, including a therapist, a law enforcement officer, advocates for survivors, a nurse and a prosecutor. We compiled their guidance on the choices survivors can make.

How We Worked With Survivors of Sexual Assault in Alaska to Tell Their Stories

Journalists from ProPublica and the Anchorage Daily News spent months hearing from, and listening to, dozens of survivors about how they processed their trauma. Here’s how we told these stories fairly and accurately.

An Elementary School Repeatedly Dismissed Allegations Against Its Principal. Then, an FBI Agent Pretended to Be a 13-Year-Old Girl.

The principal for one of Alaska’s largest rural elementary schools, in a region with some of the highest sex crime rates in the country and a state with a history of failing to protect students, was allowed to remain on the job until the FBI got involved.

ProPublica and Local Reporting Partner Anchorage Daily News Win Pulitzer Prizes for National Reporting and Public Service

The two designations are ProPublica’s 6th Pulitzer win in 12 years and the first Pulitzer awarded to a Local Reporting Network partner.

Sex Offenders Were Becoming Cops. After Our Stories, Alaska’s Governor Wants That To End.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed law comes after Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica found that dozens of rural Alaskan police officers had been hired despite criminal convictions.

Alaska’s Public Safety Officer Program Is Failing. Can It Be Saved?

A big part of Alaska’s law enforcement crisis is a program that recruits residents of remote villages and trains them to work as police. Now, a group of state legislators is proposing nine ideas to rescue the program.

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