Gov. Janet Mills declared at a Tuesday afternoon ceremony held at the Blaine House that October is now Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the State of Maine.
The governor’s announcement, which included telling her own story as a survivor of domestic violence, was made alongside members of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence.
“Some years ago, there was a young woman who dated a man who was handsome and charming and smart, and she was in love with him,” Gov. Mills said in her Tuesday remarks. “The man was also an alcoholic, as it turned out. And one night in a drunken rage, that man held a gun to her head. The gun did not go off.”
“She was alone in a strange city and had no place to go. She packed her bags and left that place and never turned back. The rest of the story is that that young woman went to law school. She became a prosecutor, later the Attorney General and now the Governor of the State of Maine,” Mills said.
The proclamation, signed Oct. 10 by Mills and Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, states that over 14,000 people in Maine affected by domestic violence seek help annually.
Additionally, the governor’s proclamation states that nearly half of all homicides in the state are related to domestic abuse and violence, and that ” trans and gender non-binary people experience abuse from partners at disproportionate rates.”
“To make sure Maine people who have experienced, or who are experiencing domestic abuse know they’re not alone, and know that escape from violence is possible, I have declared October Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Maine,” Mills continued.
“We can prevent domestic abuse and domestic violence in Maine by spreading awareness, by improving public policies to better support people affected by abuse, and by holding perpetrators accountable,” she said. “Every day, but especially during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, may we all do our part to spread awareness about domestic abuse, to challenge the behavior of abusive people, and to support survivors of domestic abuse, whoever they may be.”
In June, Gov. Mills signed LD 692 into law, which placed certain limitations on when a sheriff may assign a county jail inmate who is serving a sentence for a crime against a family or household member to a community confinement monitoring program.
The law requires the jail administrator to determine that the inmate is not reasonably likely to pose a risk to the safety of others in the community, based in part on an assessment of the inmate’s criminal history record.
The law also requires a good faith attempt to notify the victim of the crime before and after the assignment of the inmate to a community confinement monitoring program.
Other efforts undertaken by the Mills Administration and the State Legislature to address domestic violence include creating a new set of crimes for certain types of domestic violence assaults, amending the Maine Criminal Code to include dating partners within the scope of domestic violence crimes, and making it more difficult for perpetrators to take control of victims’ financial resources.