Maine CDC Press Release

December 9, 2008

Governor and Maine's Health Leaders Issue Health Advisory on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

AUGUSTA - Governor John E. Baldacci, Public Health Director Dr. Dora Anne Mills and Attorney General Steve Rowe were joined by leaders from Maine’s medical community as they issued a health advisory on domestic violence and sexual assault. Such health advisories are issued by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) in the Department of Health and Human Services as an electronic tool for communicating urgent information to the professional health community and others.

"Domestic violence-related homicides in Maine have increased from 8 in 2007 to 17 so far this year," explained Governor Baldacci. “Domestic violence and sexual assault are serious issues impacting the health and welfare of Mainers. We must all work together to prevent and mitigate these important public health problems.”

"Our main message to the professional health community today is that we are asking them to routinely screen for domestic violence and sexual assault," said Dr. Mills. "Many are already doing this, and we hope this health advisory expands their existing work and helps to standardize screening."

"Furthermore, we recommend that physicians and all health care providers be familiar with existing domestic violence and sexual assault resources and be trained on how to screen and make referrals for both victims and perpetrators,” continued Dr. Mills. “National studies indicate that three-quarters of domestic violence-related homicide victims were seen in a health care setting for related injuries within a year of their homicide. Effective screening and referrals may have saved their lives."

Attorney General Rowe applauded Dr. Mills and Governor Baldacci for shining a light on this devastating public health problem and for enlisting the medical community to connect victims with the excellent resources available to them in their communities. Rowe said, "Domestic and sexual violence costs us all and it costs us in real ways. It costs our economy about $1.5 billion and it rips the social fabric of our communities apart." He called on Mainers to change the culture that supports men’s violence against women by providing young men with models of healthy relationships and teaching them to respect women.

"My Administration has supported efforts to comprehensively address domestic violence and sexual assault," said Governor Baldacci. "We’ve sought to make State Government a leader in this area, establishing domestic violence policies in the workplace. We have also given prosecutors better tools by which to handle violators. But there’s more that we can do. We can all speak out against domestic violence and sexual assault; we can all become familiar with resources in our communities; and employers can implement domestic violence workplace policies that support victims."

For more information on Maine resources or if you have been abused and want help, call the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence 24 hour hotline at 1-866-834-4357 (TTY 1-800-787-3224) or visit www.mcedv.org; or call the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault 24 hour hotline at 1-800-871-7741 (TTY 1-888-458-5599) or visit http://www.mecasa.org/

The health advisory that includes community, statewide, and online resources can be found at www.mainepublichealth.gov

Governor Baldacci, Dr. Mills, and Attorney General Rowe were joined by representatives of the Maine Medical Association, Maine Osteopathic Association, Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Maine Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Maine Emergency Medical Services and others.