Enhance Support Systems
THE CURRENT State
Special Victims Units (SVU) investigate criminal cases involving sexual assault, kidnapping, assault, and stalking. Currently, only Anchorage has an SVU.
Prosecuting attorneys play an instrumental role in the prosecution of sex offenders. However, prosecuting attorneys may not be familiar with the dynamics of victimization and assault and the impact of cultural and historical trauma. Additionally, there is a lot of misunderstanding concerning the lethality of strangulation.
Why it’s a Problem
Handling sexual assault cases, whether involving children or adults, require specialized training. Having an assigned person to handle these cases helps victims. SVUs are generally responsible for all cases involving physical abuse of children as well as sexual assault of children and adults, providing critical services to victims, communities and prosecutors.
If prosecuting attorneys are unfamiliar with sexual assault dynamics and the impact of cultural and historical trauma, their actions and words may further victimize the survivor.
How to change it
1. Reinstate and expand the best-practice of Special Victims Units in Alaska’s regional District Attorney offices.
2. Provide training to prosecuting attorneys so that they are familiar with dynamics of victimization, neurological responses of victims, the lethality of strangulation, dynamics of sex offenders, the impact of cultural and historical trauma for Alaska Natives and those families and communities with generational trauma.
3. Fund a statewide hotline for sexual assault victims staffed by trained advocates who can listen, provide trauma-informed support, make referrals to nearby victim services programs and assist victims develop safety plans).
4. Expand training and funding for advocates to work with adult and child victims and their families.