Bethel Residents Rally to Stop Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

by Ben Matheson on March 27, 2014

Bethel residents rally for Choose Respect. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Bethel residents rally for Choose Respect. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

More than 100 residents of Bethel marched in a Choose Respect rally Thursday afternoon. It was one of more than 170 events planned around the state to make a stand again sexual violence and assault. Those incidents are often kept quiet, but Thursday’s rally was about making noise.

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Carrying banners and brightly colored signs, men, women, and children of all ages gathered for the fourth year of Choose Respect. Bethel elder Mary Beaver told the crowd that we all have a part in stopping violence. She says we can learn lessons about protecting our loved ones from nature.

“Every time we see those female animals, they are with their cubs, birds keep their chicks right behind them while swimming. When an animal or people come, the mother will lead their cubs or chicks to a safe place,” said Beaver.

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Representing Governor Sean Parnell was Brigadier General Mike Bridges, the Commander of the Alaska Army National Guard.

“Wave your hand and yell, you’re here because you want to stop domestic and abuse in Alaska, right? Alright, we’re going to go show this community what it is all about and we mean business,” said Bridges.

On the walk from Tundra Women’s Coalition to University of Alaska Fairbanks Bethel Campus, the lunchtime traffic broke the silence by honking in support. Rose Dominic, who works in Preventative Services at YKHC Behavioral health says family violence matters to everyone.

“It is not a part of our Yup’ik way of life. If we work together and utilize our way of love and respecting one another other, we can make a change,” said Dominic.

That change may come slowly and in fits and starts. On a day to break the silence, Mary Beaver says it’s not easy to talk about it, both for for victims and those close to them.

“There are lots of people who are willing to help and support, only if you look for help or ask,” said Beaver. “If you’re not quiet.”

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