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Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

With the holidays upon us, it is a time to celebrate with family, be with friends, and help our neighbors. But even with the excitement of the holidays, there is a dark reality this time of year, and it relates to the rise in domestic violence crimes in Maine.

Recently, the murder of Kasandra Perkins has grabbed national headlines and yet again draws attention to domestic violence.

Kasandra’s boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs football player, Jovan Belcher who was also a University of Maine graduate shot Kasandra nine times before killing himself. Three days before Thanksgiving, in Alton, another domestic violence tragedy occurred. Thirty-nine year old Danielle Reed was killed in an apparent murder suicide which involved her estranged husband and his friend. These deaths are a brutal reminder of the devastating eff ects of domestic violence.

These three deaths in Alton bring the number of homicides in Maine this year to 19, with nine of those deemed domestic violence-related deaths.

I cannot stress enough that these are not just numbers; these are our family, friends, and members of our communities.

Each year between 50 and 60% of homicides in Maine are domestic violence related. This is not a trend we want to see continue.

In 2011, Maine law enforcement received more than five-thousand calls related to domestic violence assaults. These crimes are on the rise in Maine and it is troubling. As a society, we can stand up and say this is unacceptable. Domestic violence awareness is crucial to eliminating the problem. We need a coordinated, community response to put an end to domestic violence now and for the next generation. Everyone has to step up. Personally, I would like to see men step up to the plate on this pivotal issue and they have.

We have many groups started by men including UMaine’s Male Athletes Against Domestic Violence, Boys to Men, and Guys and Pies are just a few that are proactive with young men and raising awareness about domestic violence and abuse. But we all know that it will take more than men to eliminate this heinous crime. It will take families and communities coming together to say enough is enough.

I encourage you to talk with your family members about domestic violence. It’s likely that you or someone you know has been affected by this abuse. As a survivor, I know how difficult it is to speak up, especially when you’ve experience the abuse yourself. This is a sobering subject, but we must all stand up and speak up together – we must do it in their memory and to help those who are affecting by abuse right now.

Finally, I would like to leave you with information that has saved lives. The most dangerous time for a victim is when they try to end an abusive relationship. The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence is committed to ensuring safety for victims.

If you are in or you know of someone in a harmful or potentially harmful situation, please, pick up the phone and call. The Coalition has resources to help. The Statewide Domestic Violence Helpline is 1-866-83-4HELP. That’s 1-866-834-4357.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost a loved one to domestic violence.

Thank you for listening. Be safe and enjoy your weekend.

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