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A majority of women – 59% -- have experienced sexual or intimate partner violence, which includes physical violence and threats; and 37%, nearly four in 10, have been raped or sexually assaulted, according to a survey of 871 adult women in Alaska, published in 2010.There was a time when politicians in Alaska argued rape survivors were simply reporting rape more often in this state than elsewhere.
tand outside Ruth's wooden home here in Alaska and you'll hear only an occasional sound: A plane buzzes overhead, a reminder that the only way in or out of this village at this time of year is by air.
Snowmobile tracks in her driveway, fossilized by the cold, creak and pop under your feet like brittle Styrofoam. Next to Ruth's house is a shack: One room, wood stove, metal roof.
He shared her love for the outdoors, her passion for camping all summer, soaking in 24 hours of sunlight afforded by the severe tilt of the Earth up here. And she loves him now, she told me as we sat in her living room, wind chimes clanging outside on the porch. It's been harder lately -- since she learned what Sheldon was hiding.
Ruth told me her world nearly collapsed that day in 2003 when the police said her husband, over a course of years, had been raping and molesting Alice, one of her adopted daughters.
And, more importantly, what can be done to change that?
Readers prompted this quest when they voted for me to cover rape and violence against women in the United States as part of CNN's Change the List project, which seeks to bring attention and support to bottom-of-the-list places like Alaska.
The goal here is exactly the opposite, said the clinical director of the local sex-offender treatment program, and who I'll call Robert.
Offenders are "right in the center" of a support circle, he said.
An estimated 80 rapes are reported in Alaska for every 100,000 people.
That's nearly three times the national average of 27; and almost seven times the rate in New Jersey, the state where reported rape is least common. But localized surveys in Alaska paint an even bleaker picture.