AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Governor Paul LePage says men need to take responsibility for stopping domestic violence.
The Governor Wednesday proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. LePage, who suffered as a domestic violence victim himself as a child, was joined Wednesday by activists and some of his cabinet members. He also made a point of inviting men to join him.
That included Waterville-area businessman Gary Hammond and domestic violence activist Art Jette of Cambridge. Hammond told how one of his employees was killed in a domestic violence assault several years ago, prompting the company to create strong policies to deal with any future incidents involving staff members.
Jette, whose grandson was killed in a domestic violence attack in 1999, echoed the Governor's call to action by men. Jette said men have to talk to their sons and other men about the proper treatment of women and the need to end violence of all kinds. "We can have all the strict laws in the world," said LePage, "but we have to make it socially unacceptable."
Julia Colpitts of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, said she welcomes the focus on men's role in the issue. But Colpitts also said current federal government shutdown is threatening some of the state's domestic violence programs. She says Domestic Violence Resource centers get 80 percent of their funding from the federal government, and a prolonged shutdown could force them to cut back services.
Governor LePage also announced he is donating $10,000 from a contingency fund to help build a new memorial to Maine murder victims in Augusta. In the past two years, half of the murders have been a result of domestic violence. The Governor said that so far this year, statistics show 30% of murders are related to domestic violence. The Governor said that was an encouraging sign, but cautioned that the most stressful time of year is yet to come.