We don’t talk enough about domestic violence until it’s impossible to ignore.

Every minute, about 20 people — mostly women — experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner. Every day domestic violence hotlines nationally answer roughly 20,000 calls.

But beyond survivor advocates and law enforcement, it isn’t truly engaged with, not in the way necessary to address the society-wide issues that cause it, or to burst the bubble of privacy, shame and control that keeps good people from acting against it.

That’s why we get weeks like these.

In just the past few days, there have been six deaths police say are related to domestic violence. In Gardiner, police say a 48-year-old killed his estranged wife, 44-year-old Autumn Bryant, before killing himself. In Portland, a man is charged with strangling his longtime girlfriend.

In Presque Isle, police say a 14-month-old boy was shot to death by his father, who then killed himself. In Swanville, a 22-year-old man killed 26-year-old Shane Sauer in a dispute over a woman.

That may seem like a lot of violence in a short span for Maine, but it’s not that unusual. Over the course of about a week last December, three Maine women were killed, two, police say, by their longtime boyfriends and the third by a man she briefly dated then tried to get away from.

During the same period, police stopped three other scary domestic violence situations that easily could have turned tragic.

And in July 2017, four people were killed and another wounded in central Maine in two domestic violence incidents separated by days.

Violence like that stands out in Maine, but any traction it gains with the public is fleeting. A few days later most of us are on to something else — and that is as good as saying there is nothing we can do to stop the murders, or even the daily toll that domestic violence takes on women in every corner of the state.

Domestic violence is a societal sickness. It has many factors, but at its heart is the perpetrator’s desire to exert power over his partner. That is not innate but learned — from one’s own upbringing, from peers, or from the culture at large.

There are policy changes we can make, too, that would make a difference. Early detection and intervention for batterers helps, as does monitoring and restricting firearm access.

But most of all, we need to keep talking about domestic violence — about how to recognize it, how to respond to it, how to reach out for help and, ultimately, how make it utterly unacceptable.

If we don’t, then we’ll have fresh headlines to remind us.

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.