Taking back control: how a remote island in Alaska tackled domestic abuse
By Jill Burke
When Stacy Bourdukofsky’s abusive ex-husband touched down on the small island where they live to stand trial for strangling his girlfriend and whacking a man in the head with a bat, she was waiting to board the outbound flight on the same jet.
She’d gone to extreme measures to escape him in the past, and she wasn’t about to let him unnerve her this time around.
“My first marriage was a nightmare. It was constant drinking, and it was always beatings. I would end up with severe black eyes to where I couldn’t see out of one eye,” said Bourdukofsky, 37, a no-nonsense mom who hunts reindeer and coaches basketball. “I had no support. I had nobody to talk to back then.”
She had dealt with Nekita Melovidov, 47, for the better part of her adult life. She’d gotten as far away from him as one can get living on St Paul, an isolated volcanic speck of land surrounded by the Bering Sea, almost halfway between Russia and Alaska. Survival meant abandoning her old life, and, for a time, her children.
“I had enough. I packed up my stuff, walked straight out the door and never looked back,” said Bourdukofsky. She quit drinking, remarried, and started a new career.
Shelter housing and counselors helped her slowly piece her life back together. She now works as a victim advocate – a calm head in a moment of need, a human link to a better life.