On Jan. 8-9, the Alaska Nurses Association, with the Academy of Forensic Nursing and the University of Alaska Anchorage College of Health, is presenting a regional conference in Anchorage, with online attendance options available for Alaskans statewide, for local agencies to learn how to better serve those who have been harmed by violence.

According to the University of Alaska’s 2015 Alaska Victimization Survey, half of the adult women in Alaska (more than 130,000 people) have experienced violence in their lifetime. According to Dr. Angelia Trujillo, DNP, WHNP and associate professor at the UAA College of Health, current victim response practices are typically focused on specialty responses to sexual assault and domestic violence. This conference will provide participants with the opportunity to explore responses to victimization in a generalist process.

The Caring for Victims of Violence with a Multidisciplinary Approach Conference will educate social service providers, nurses, physicians and law enforcement how to better serve anyone who has been harmed by violence including physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and financial abuse.

The first of its kind in Anchorage, the conference takes a collaborative approach to training people at every level of the system who might encounter a victim of violence. Event organizers hope to make this an annual conference so health care and law enforcement agencies will be able to take the knowledge they gain to build and expand forensic response programs in their communities.

According to event organizers, now is the right time for Alaska agencies to deepen their knowledge and understanding for caring for victims of violence. The Department of Public Safety’s most recent Crime in Alaska report showed Alaska’s rate of sexual assaults per 100,000 people is 161.9—four times the national rate. Another study conducted by Loyola University in New Orleans revealed Anchorage had the highest reported numbers of human trafficking in its 10-city study, Labor and Sex Trafficking Among Homeless Youth.

“Many steps, such as the signing of the Operation Lady Justice bill in Nov. 2019, are being taken now to bolster the fight against violence. In Alaska that includes a new partnership between the Alaska State Troopers, local law enforcement and the FBI,” said Jane Erickson, ADN, RN, CCRN and Alaska Nurses Association board of directors president. “With this increased focus on the fight against violence, especially against women, this conference is another step in the direction of providing better care to victims, recognizing victims and being able to step in sooner to reduce the overall rate of violence.”

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