The events of June 15, involving Leein Hinkley, have stirred deep reflections in me, especially as someone who has survived domestic violence. Recent tragedies, such as those in Auburn, highlight how our systems often fail victims in their most vulnerable moments.

Domestic violence remains vastly underreported, a critical issue requiring immediate attention. Nationally, more than 10 million individuals suffer physical abuse from an intimate partner annually — equating to 20 people per minute.

In Maine, staggering percentages of women (39.3%) and men (33.6%) endure intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or stalking in their lifetimes. The daily influx of over 19,000 calls to local DV hotlines in Maine underscores the pervasive nature of this crisis.

The heartbreaking and tragic outcome in Auburn — where lives were lost, homes destroyed, and a community left in fear — exposes systemic failures in protecting victims. Here, a judge’s single decision to reduce bail for a perpetrator with a history of severe domestic violence prioritized legal rights over victim safety — a stark reminder of the importance of Sixth Amendment’s protections in criminal trials. With a shortage in available defense attorneys this judge decided to make a decision for the defendant to protect his rights. In this case, that decision was also deadly.

These failures are especially troubling given the fact that we know victims need and deserve support not only from the legal system, but also from other helping professionals in their community and from friends and family. Our paramount goal must be creating a climate where victims feel secure to report abuse without fear of reprisal and get the much needed help they deserve.

In the Auburn incident, the system faltered. The perpetrator, out on $1,500 bail and under house arrest, was able to access a gun and threaten the victim. Though she escaped, another person in her home at the time did not. Changes in Maine law have complicated probation officers’ roles, making enforcement of violations increasingly challenging for them.


Stricter measures and more effective enforcement could have prevented this tragedy. These events underscore an urgent need for reform and a greater emphasis on victim safety within our legal and legislative systems.

There are many myths surrounding domestic violence and a common question is: “Why don’t victims leave abusive situations sooner?”

The answer is complex; sometimes staying is safer.

Alarmingly, 75% of women killed by their abusers are murdered after attempting to leave or successfully leaving.

Additionally, factors such as the presence of children can make the planning process more complicated. Finances also play a significant role, as financial and economic abuse impacts up to 99% of domestic violence victims during an abusive relationship, and finances are often cited as the biggest barrier to leaving an abusive relationship, making it difficult to leave and support oneself.

As a community, we have a duty to protect those in need. While DV may seem like a private issue, it’s not. It’s a community issue with far reaching impact. Its economic tolls are also far-reaching.


Each year, across the United States DV-related crimes result in 8 million days of lost time in the workplace — equivalent to 32,000 full-time jobs lost in productivity. This underscores not only a human toll but also a significant economic ripple effect affecting businesses and our local economy.

Responding to domestic violence comprehensively demands both empathy and swift action — from better legal protections for victims to enhanced support systems and education. It’s time we prioritize safety and justice for all.

If you or someone you know needs helps please call the national domestic violence hotline at (800) 799-7233, or text 88788 for information and resources.

Sarah Doucette, is an author, public speaker and survivor of domestic violence. Read her personal story in her book, “Stronger Than That: A Domestic Violence Survivor Uncovers the Truth About Her Abuser.”

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