In his radio address this week Gov. LePage said: Domestic violence is a sobering subject, but it’s one that needs to be talked about.In early June, the news quickly spread about a husband who shot his wife in Winslow before leading police on a high speed chase to then only shoot himself. Two young orphaned children are the innocent victims left behind as a result of this senseless tragedy and a mother gone forever.
A week later, we heard about another shooting in the small town of Dexter. This time a husband shot his estranged wife and their two children. He then killed himself. These are despicable cases of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is a problem in our State and it’s this type of abuse that is ripping apart families, friends and entire communities. We can no longer stay silent. We must speak out and as Governor I pledge to do just that.
As many of you know, I left home at the age of 11 with nowhere to go. But being homeless was the better alternative of being abused. I understand how domestic abuse can tear a family apart and I am aware of the sensitivity of the issue. I have zero tolerance for domestic abuse. There is no reason to inflict this abuse on anyone ever.
Domestic abuse affects people in all races, religions, and social classes. It simply has no boundaries.
However, while both men and women can be victims of domestic violence, according to federal statistics 84% of victims are women.
This year, Maine has lost 13 people to homicide. 7 of those people were killed by a spouse or loved one. These are not just numbers, these are our friends and neighbors. These are not only statistics, they are sons, daughters, mothers and fathers.
Each year between 50 and 60% of homicides in Maine are domestic violence related. This is not a trend we want to see continue. It needs to stop now.
Domestic violence awareness is crucial to eliminating the problem. But how do we end a problem that has plagued us for so long? We do it by making it socially unacceptable. We need a coordinated, community response to put an end to domestic violence now and for the generation. Everyone has to step up. Personally, I would like to see men step up to the plate on this pivotal issue.
The recent murders have again focused our attention on the tragic results of domestic violence. I take this issue very seriously as does my administration. My administration has already been involved in measures to end domestic violence and has identified additional initiatives that include possible legislation, policy and calls to action.
We need to strengthen our domestic violence related laws. We must hold abusers accountable for the violent actions they choose. Public Safety Commissioner John Morris and I are working on legislation that specifically addresses these issues. Lastly, we must provide services to help victims find safety.
This fall, the Maine Department of Labor and the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence will roll out a new campaign addressing abuse in the workplace. A variety of businesses are taking part including Bath Iron Works, Hammond Tractor and L.L. Bean. These are the type of initiatives I challenge communities and businesses to take part in. To make this behavior socially unacceptable we must demand it.
Finally, I would like to leave you with information that has saved lives. The most dangerous time for a victim is when they try to end an abusive relationship. The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence is committed to ensuring safety for victims.
If you are in or you know of someone in a harmful or potentially harmful situation, please, pick up the phone and call. The Coalition has resources to help.
The Statewide Domestic Violence Helpline is 1-866-83-4HELP. That’s 1-866-83-4HELP.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost a loved one to domestic violence. Thank you for listening. Be safe and enjoy your weekend.