Dinner and a Movie

reducedIt is one thing to read “Alaska leads the nation with its rates of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse,” with startling figures such as the “Alaska rape rate is 2.5 times the national average, and child sexual assault in Alaska is almost six times the national average.” * And it is something altogether transformative to journey—visually and emotionally—with four women brave enough to share their stories of sexual abuse and trauma.

Join Chugachmiut’s Domestic Violence Intervention Project for a screening of the recently completed documentary “Breathe in the Light” in Chenega Bay, Tatitlek, Nanwalek, and Port Graham. “Breathe in the Light” follows the narratives of four women, all survivors of sexual assault, during their journey on Kesugi Ridge, and explores their lives after this therapeutic trek.

In June of 2012, during the week of the Summer Solstice, Hope, Kalina, Amber and Rebecca participated in an uncommon journey. The women trekked in the Alaska Range exploring both internal and external terrain. During the arc of a week’s hike, four women–strangers united by their shared experiences of trauma–learned safety, judgment, leadership, teamwork, and how to navigate their own personal layers of landscape.

Hope is Pueblo from the Lower 48 and moved up to Alaska years ago to reunite with her sister and have the support of family. She is a survivor of child sexual abuse at the hands of her father and also endured extensive abuse—physically, emotionally, and sexually—from her first husband.

Kalina is Alaska Native and the youngest of the group. She was drugged and raped at a party in high school, and awoke with no memory of the event but discovered that from her shoulder to her knees her body was covered in profanities in Sharpie. Her assault was captured on video and posted on YouTube, and the assailants were never charged nor punished.

Amber, also Alaska Native, was sexually abused by her cousin from the time she was 12 until she turned 15 and ran away. Amber’s first relationship, with the father of her first two children, was also abusive. Amber eventually left this relationship and was trafficked for a number of years and survived a heartbreaking amount of violence.

Rebecca grew up in Anchorage and calls Alaska home. She has had the grace to allow her experiences to frame her career path and now serves her community as a therapist. Her story ties together the intentions and goals of the women of Breathe in the Light: “I want to get to a point where I can speak out as a survivor and I can help others and feel like I’m worthy of helping others, and I’m worthy telling my story, and hearing other stories.”

Not only is Meg McKinney the project coordinator, she is the filmmaker of “Breathe in the Light.” She will be available for questions regarding the film at each event. To find out more about a screening in a community near you, to inquire about arranging local domestic violence trainings, or simply for advocacy or support, please contact Meg at 877-907-8738 or meg@chugachmiut.org.    

* Citation: Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault 2006 Annual Report: “Working in Alaska Communities For: Safety, Justice, Advocacy and Education, Violence Prevention”. Juneau, Alaska.)