AUGUSTA, Maine – Gov. Paul R. LePage is directing $100,000 from the governor’s emergency contingency fund to the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence in response to federal cuts that will affect programs and services used by Maine abuse victims.
“We’re seeing an increase in use of domestic violence shelters and emergency hotlines across Maine, so it is critically important that victims have the resources they need to ensure they are safe,” said LePage in a Monday press statement. “This contribution will help provide those resources to victims and empower them to rebuild their lives.”
Domestic violence reports in Maine rose for the second consecutive year in 2012, but victim advocates and law enforcement attribute the increase to better awareness of the issue and willingness to call for help.
“More Mainers today are speaking out against this heinous crime because of the willingness of victims, friends, family and others who are no longer accepting this behavior,” stated the governor. “Domestic violence not only affects the victim, but it changes families and communities. We must come together to stand up, speak up and man up to make this behavior socially unacceptable.”
Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence Executive Director Julia Colpitts said this contribution will help bridge the funding gap for programs in Maine that in recent months have experienced reductions from the federal government.
“I hope that the federal government follows [LePage’s] lead by restoring the damaging national funding cuts,” said Colpitts. “We also hope that private donors continue to step up in their local communities. We do not ever want to turn victims away from safety because of funding gaps,” she added.
In addition to raising statewide awareness about domestic violence-related crimes, LePage earlier this year 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 batterers intervention programs, which hold abusers accountable for their actions, making certain that offenders can be sentenced to these programs.
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.
To locate your local Domestic Violence Resource Center, call the statewide helpline at 866-834-HELP (4357) or visit www.mcedv.org.