Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV) is a nonprofit organization that provides temporary shelter and empowerment-based safety and trauma-informed advocacy services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, while promoting a community of nonviolence and respect. It is located in the City and Borough of Sitka, Alaska, and serves Sitka, as well as the surrounding Southeast Alaska communities of Port Alexander, Kake, and Angoon.
SAFV has two main areas of work: advocacy and prevention. In direct services, an advocate is on duty 24/7 to help those in any type of violence situation or who have concerns about their or a loved one's safety. Advocates provide services such as personal support, safety planning, and systems advocacy while working with legal, housing, or medical agencies to support a person's right to live free from violence. SAFV's shelter is open to survivors of all genders.
The second area of work at SAFV, prevention, is essential in stopping multigenerational cycles of violence within families and communities. Primary prevention works by creating systems and programs, such as Boys Run I toowú klatseen (boysrun.org) and the Pathways to a Safer Sitka Coalition (sitkapathways.org), that support a community's well-being. This happens by working to foster respect, healthy relationships, and equity, creating healthier, more resilient people who are less likely to experience or commit acts of violence in their lifetime.
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Engaging Youth in Prevention
Youth in SAFV’s Sitka Youth Leadership Committee (SYLC, https://www.sitkayouthleadership.com/) meet weekly to plan and implement projects, connect across differences, and create a respectful community. Through workshops, collaboration, and leadership opportunities, members gain the skills they need to become leaders in effecting positive social change among their peers. Reba Dundas, who was a SYLC member during her last two years of high school, reflected upon how SYLC impacted her: “As a result of participating in SYLC, my vision now is that respect spreads across the schools, in the community, between groups, and is a “must” in intimate partner relationships… we, as a community, need to encourage and praise youth... we need to take a step forward and teach about healthy relationships in the schools.”
SYLC’s campaign, “Healthy Me, Healthy We,” aims to increase awareness of dating violence and promote healthy relationships among teens. This campaign encourages teens to define not only the “rights”, but also the “responsibilities” that they plan to establish in any relationship--intimate and platonic alike [see poster below]. “Healthy Me, Healthy We” was highlighted by the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, (CDVSA) and has reached over 300,000 people.
Please visit our website, safv.org, or our Facebook page to learn more about SAFV.