What is the AVS?
Why measure experiences with violence?
It is important to measure the prevalence (i.e., “how common”) of experiences with violence such as sexual violence and intimate partner violence for many reasons. First, measuring prevalence allows for documenting the scope of the problem: how many individuals actually have these experiences? Knowing the scope of a problem allows for guiding and evaluating policy and programming that aims to reduce these types of violence, especially if we track these trends over time. Second, measuring prevalence and sharing those results publicly allows us to increase awareness about the problem and fosters the collective movement to address these types of violence. Finally, measuring this prevalence validates the experiences of the victim-survivors and lets them know they are not alone, not unseen, and not forgotten.
Why not use data from law enforcement agencies on reports of intimate partner violence and sexual assault?
Data from law enforcement only include incidents that were reported to the police. Numerous studies, including national victimization surveys, have found that the majority of individuals who experience rape/sexual assault and nearly half of those who experience intimate partner violence do not report their victimization to the police. Therefore, the best way to gather data on crime victimization is to ask a large number of individuals whether or not they have been victimized, and make estimates based on those data. This is what a victimization survey is!
How is the AVS data collected?
The AVS is a household survey of randomly selected adult women in Alaska, who are contacted by landlines and cell phones. Participants are asked a series of behaviorally specific questions to determine their experiences with lifetime and past year intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking. Procedures are designed to maximize the safety and confidentiality of all respondents. The survey was approved by the UAA institutional review board and was supported by the Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Statewide surveys were conducted in 2010, 2015, and 2020. A series of regional surveys were conducted between 2011 and 2015.
We thank every woman in Alaska who has participated in this survey. Because of your courage, we know more about the impact of violence and are better prepared to respond to and prevent it across our state.