SAFE leads annual Domestic Violence Awareness walk in Dillingham

Oct 15, 2019

Residents walked the streets for Domestic Violence Awareness month. At the end of the march, SAFE invited folks to sit down for a roundtable discussion about domestic violence services in Bristol Bay.

Credit Bernina Venua

Dillingham residents of all ages gathered outside the police station on Oct. 9 to march the streets for Domestic Violence Awareness month.

The group was escorted by police chief Dan Pasquariello and Officer Susie Newman. Participants walked to tunes from a Bluetooth speaker as they carried signs, purple ribbons and one megaphone to lead the diverse voices in spreading the message: no domestic violence.

Dillingham resident Ted Krieg was one of those marching. He believes community events like this help to elevate the conversation surrounding difficult subjects.

“I think it does, you know people see us out there marching and acknowledge we’re there," Krieg said. "I think it’s one of those things nobody likes to talk about. We end up being quiet about things. I think being open about it and acknowledging there are problems and things we need to work on.”

The march wrapped up at the SAFE building, where folks were invited to explore a slideshow with messages from domestic violence survivors.

Gregg Marxmiller, an outreach coordinator for SAFE, gathered people to discuss services for different genders, as well as ways to talk about domestic violence.

“It’s about victims choosing what services they need and how they want them given to them," Marxmiller said. "Sometimes men don’t feel comfortable going to women’s shelters, even though we’re not a women’s shelter, essentially.”

SAFE reported in August that 12% of their services were used by men over a six month period. There are no domestic violence services specifically for men in Dillingham. That’s something Marxmiller wants to change.

“It’s kind of been a dream of mine and I’ve talked with Mary Jane about this for awhile," he said. "We would have a talking circle about that here. One day I’d love to see a men’s house built here where we gather as a community and we talk about issues in a talking circle.”

Wellness coordinator Mary Jane Kasayulie works for the Bristol Bay Native Association. She has travelled to villages to promote domestic violence services through a Wellness Circle of Life. Kasayulie said these circles are sacred, and are meant for all people. She also shared her own experience participating in a circle, when a younger woman described a family ordeal.

“She was talking about how she wanted to hear her parents say, ‘I love you,’" she said. "When she started talking about that I started bawling. I started crying. Where is this emotion coming from? Because I longed for that growing up.”

Now Kasayuli is working to schedule the next Wellness Circle of Life in Dillingham. And SAFE is continuing to explore funding options to increase services across Bristol Bay. They hope to expand those services in the next five years. 

Contact the author at tyler@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200