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Sexual Assault Awareness Month

I’ve spent over a decade working in social services, focused on addressing the complex roots of homelessness. From what I’ve seen, and experienced myself, is that trauma is often the primary root. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and since 2013, reports show that sexual assault and rape happen at rates three to four times higher than the national average in Alaska. A 2017 study found,  


Survivors of sexual assault are more likely to experience mental health struggles, which can lead to substance abuse, relational problems with friends and family, and complicate things with work. In fact, according to one study, when compared to the general public, survivors are ten times more likely to use major substances, outside of cocaine, (that’s about six times more likely). The intersectionality of trauma, substance misuse, and addiction goes beyond mental health, poverty, and homelessness, it’s a vicious cycle that we can break.  


Just like Rocky, one of Henning’s many success stories, did. After battling a heroin addiction and being homeless for eight years, Rocky is celebrating his third year of sobriety. When Rocky received a cot at the Sullivan Arena, he was given more than just a place to rest his head and get a much-needed break from the elements; he was given direct access to resources like a methadone clinic and a chance to get sober.  


June will be here before we know it and our emergency cold weather shelters will close their doors soon, meaning 900 Alaskans will lose the direct access to recovery services that transformed Rocky’s life. We’ve housed more than 90 people through our partnership with the Anchorage Collation to End Homelessness.  


There’s more to life than shelter, together we can go beyond,  


Shawn Hays  

Founder & Executive Director  

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