'We, the men, have to help to eliminate abuse'

AUGUSTA — To win the battle against domestic violence, Gov. Paul LePage says men need to stop seeing the problem as a women’s issue and take action to stop abuse.

  

Mario Moretto/Bangor Daily News

Gov. Paul LePage addresses advocates, his staff and the press during a ceremony marking October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“We can have all the strict laws in the world, but we have to make (domestic violence) socially unacceptable,” LePage said during a ceremony Wednesday morning in his Cabinet Room at the State House.

“We, the men, have to help to eliminate abuse,” Lepage continued. “We are 80 percent of the perpetrators, and we have to find a way to stop people from doing this, and we can’t expect women to fight this battle alone.”

The morning ceremony marked the proclamation of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, during which the Blaine House, Maine’s governor’s residence, will be illuminated in purple — the color associated with the cause.

The governor also announced that he will provide $10,000 from his contingency fund to help pay for the completion of the Maine Murder Victims’ Memorial in Augusta. Ground was broken Sunday on the memorial, a project by Maine’s chapter of Parents of Murdered Children.

The memorial commemorates the lives of all murder victims, but LePage said the connection to his fight against domestic violence was clear. Of the 17 homicides in Maine this year, six were related in some way to domestic violence, he said. He also said many people who commit suicide did so after being plagued by violence in their homes.

Art Jette, director of the Maine chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, also spoke at Wednesday’s event. He said domestic violence has wrongly been considered a “women’s issue.” It wasn’t men’s charge to take over that fight, he said, but to join it.

Awareness about domestic violence should start early in life, when men must be good role models for young boys and teens, he said.

“They’ll do as we do, even if we tell them to do what we say,” he said.

To illustrate how domestic violence affects society as a whole, LePage invited Gary Hammond, president of Hammond Tractor Company, to talk about his firm’s policy establishing procedures to support employees who are victims of domestic violence.

An employee of the company died as a result of domestic violence that culminated in murder-suicide, Hammond said, and he urged other companies to enact policies to prevent such tragedies.

“I’m sorry to say we did not really focus and fine-tune our policy until after we lost a co-worker,” he said. “Domestic violence is a workplace issue. It does not stop and stay at home when the victims come to work. They are especially vulnerable while they are at work. Domestic violence can compromise the safety of that employee, and of the other employees.”

LePage, who left home at age 11 because of an abusive father, has made fighting domestic violence a priority during his term as governor.

Earlier this year, LePage signed into law a bill aimed at ensuring that courts can require that offenders convicted of domestic violence complete batterers’ intervention programs as part of their sentence. In July, he directed $100,000 from his contingency account to fund help for victims of domestic violence.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.

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Comments

 's picture

Ummmmm....

Let me first affirm that I am an advocate of any efforts to tackle the issue of Domestic Violence, and AWAP has done an incredible job over the past few decades in raising awareness and helping women.

But I'm not at all sure that Gov. LePage's face is what I would associate with "tackling the issue of Domestic Violence". For me, verbal/emotional/mental abuse is just as damaging as being slammed around, and by far not as visible in cases of domestic violence. Gov. LePage is the most verbally abusive public figure I have ever witnessed, bullying those around him to get what he wants. He is so blatantly arogant and belittling....makes me sick.

“We can have all the strict laws in the world, but we have to make (domestic violence) socially unacceptable,” LePage said
He needs to take his own advice!!!!

ok

good thought Governor Lepage, but it sounds better coming from someone who is NOT a bully himself. Just sayin..

Susan Patneaude's picture

Thank you Governor LePage

I was involved in the very first years of the battered women's movement in Maine in the mid 1970's. Domestic Violence shelters were first recognized and funded due to the commitment of dozens of Maine women and a few good men who had the courage to take a stand. Before I became a hotline volunteer I knew nothing of family violence and I'm thankful for that every day. During the 13 years I was Executive Director of AWAP in Auburn, 26 of the women who had either called on the hotline or stayed in the shelter were murdered by their partners/spouses. That's sobering and devastating but it's also the stark and brutal reality of domestic violence.

There is no chance to effect real change without the full advocacy and support of good men. Teach your boys to love and respect women. Teach girls and young women to demand respect and love from the men in their lives. Role model the elements of non-violent, successful and loving relationships.

Governor LePage "gets it" in a way many others do not, and he is in a position to make a huge difference. Kudos to him for taking a stand and enlisting and encouraging men to join him in combating this issue of life and death.

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