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Governor provides $10,000 for completion of Maine Murder Victims’ Memorial

October 2, 2013

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Oct. 2
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage today joined state and local officials, representatives from law enforcement, business and community leaders and victims’ advocacy groups at the State House to mark the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Governor LePage proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month to highlight the affects the abuse has on Maine families and communities, support victims and celebrate advocates who dedicate themselves to eradicating the violence.

“Domestic violence takes the lives of too many every year here in Maine. The physical violence alone is heart-wrenching,” said Governor LePage. “However, the emotional scars from domestic violence are lasting as well.”

There have been 17 homicides in Maine this year – 6 are related to domestic violence. Every murder is a somber reminder of the reality many families face, and why efforts to raise awareness about domestic violence and provide Mainers with resources about this abuse have remained a top priority for Governor LePage since taking office in 2011.

On Wednesday, Governor LePage announced he is directing $10,000 from his contingency fund to help pay for the completion of the Maine Murder Victims’ Memorial. Ground was broken this past weekend for the monument at Catholic Holy Family Cemetery in Augusta. The Memorial, an effort of the Maine Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, will have the names of 400 to 500 Maine murder victims inscribed in black granite tablets.

Art Jette, director of the Maine Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, says the funds are a blessing and a tribute to every Maine family who has encountered the devastation that domestic violence brings with it. “Whenever the life of a loved one is taken, there is an unbelievable grief, like no other,” he said. “We are gracious for the Governor’s support and faith in a cause that will bring comfort to families, survivors and victims, as well as a place to remember those lost at the hands of violence.”

There are many organizations in Maine working to end domestic violence, including the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (MCEDV). In July, Governor LePage directed $100,000 to the MCEDV from his contingency fund in the wake of federal program cuts.

Members of MCEDV, the Maine Chief Justice, law enforcement and others, have worked closely with the LePage administration to improve domestic-violence laws and hold perpetrators accountable.

Earlier this year, Governor LePage signed into law an emergency measure directed at reducing the number of domestic violence victims and ensuring offenders receive the tools they need to identify and end their abusive behavior. The new law focuses on batterer’s intervention programs, which hold abusers accountable for their actions, making certain that offenders can be sentenced to these programs.

Governor LePage also has worked to amend Maine’s bail code to ensure judges determine bail for domestic violence offenses, expanded financial resources for victims and their families by requiring abusers to pay into the Victim’s Compensation Fund and helped create a workplace policy for responding to domestic violence abusers, which all state agencies implement.

The Administration also teamed up with business leaders throughout Maine to create a toolkit, which includes domestic violence facts, a sample policy for businesses and a video to assist businesses of all sizes recognize and respond to domestic violence abusers in the workplace.

Hammond Tractor Company was one of the first Maine businesses to support the domestic violence workplace policy after an employee was murdered by her ex-husband. Hammond Tractor president Gary Hammond attended today’s ceremony encouraging business owners to take a proactive approach to end this violence. “Domestic violence begins in the home, but it does not end there,” Hammond said. “It follows the victim to work, and everywhere else the victim goes. We aim to provide a supportive environment for employees in an abusive situation. We want our employees to know that there is help and support available to ensure their safety.”

In commemoration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and victims killed at the hands of violence, Governor LePage and the First Lady will shine a purple light – the official color of domestic violence awareness – on the Blaine House during the month of October. “Together, we remember those who are no longer with us,” said the Governor. We honor their memories by raising awareness and carrying hope that one day we can end the violence.”

To locate your local Domestic Violence Resource Center, call the Statewide Helpline at 1-866-834-HELP (4357) or visit www.mcedv.org.

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