BANGOR, Maine — Less than a month after a 21-year-old Bangor man allegedly took the life of his 21-year-old ex-girlfriend and last week’s Westbrook murder-suicide involving two men who recently had ended their relationship, Gov. Paul LePage told a group of high school students that it was up to them to prevent future events like this.
“If we’re going to get rid of domestic violence, you’re going to be the ones to get rid of it,” LePage told John Bapst Memorial High School students who assembled Friday morning to listen to his message.
Maine averages about 25 murders per year, about half of which are labeled domestic violence homicides, LePage said.
He added that efforts to prevent future instances of violence should start early because bullying in school can lead to dating abuse and domestic violence later on that could cost someone their life.
The governor cited a recent homicide that happened just two blocks from John Bapst’s doorstep. Zackery Mailloux, 21, has been indicted on murder, kidnapping and gross sexual assault charges in the Nov. 18 strangulation death of Husson University student Brooke Locke earlier this month.
LePage also referenced the recent death of a pair of Westbrook men who had ended their relationship. Police say Patrick Milliner, 30, of South Portland shot and killed 22-year-old Matthew Rairdon of Westbrook and then committed suicide.
“There’s no monopoly on violence. Everybody participates,” LePage said.
He encouraged students to band together and intervene if they see someone being bullied or learn that one of their friends is experiencing abuse.
“Bullying, domestic violence, dating abuse, it’s not a mental illness — it’s not an illness of any form — what it is is an attitude and it’s control,” the governor said. “There is no one who has the right to abuse another human being.”
After the assembly, students picked up purple wristbands at the back of the room that read “If it is to be, it’s up to me.”
“Once the bullies get outnumbered, they go away,” LePage told a student who asked what someone could do to intervene in bullying.
Whether a student experiences violence at home or bullying online, they should reach out for help rather than keeping the issues private.
For those who aren’t sure where to turn for help, “you call the governor’s office, and I’ll get you some help real quick,” he said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.