Community

Preventing domestic violence homicide is a community issue

On July 6th, Judge Allen Hunter handed down a life sentence to Jesse Marquis, 40, for the murder of his former girlfriend and mother of two, Amy Theriault, of St. Francis.

Hope and Justice Project logo. (Contributed)

Hope and Justice Project logo. (Contributed)

On June 17th, a jury found Jesse Marquis of St. Francis guilty of the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Amy Theriault. Theriault was killed on May 31, 2014 in her home. She died of a gunshot wound and multiple stab wounds according to the state medical examiner.

No amount of time in prison can change the fact that the Theriault family must move forward in life without their beloved Amy. She will never celebrate her 32nd birthday.  Her two daughters will grow up without their mother. This damage is irreversible, but if we work together we can change the existing conditions that allow domestic violence and abuse to happen in the first place.

Last week, Maine’s Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel released their 2016 report. This biennial report reviews domestic abuse homicide cases after sentencing or acquittal and homicide-suicide cases after investigations are complete. The 2016 panel of advocates, attorneys, law enforcement, and other helping professionals reviewed domestic abuse homicides that occurred in Maine in 2014 and 2015.

In 2014, 14 of the 21 homicides in Maine were domestic violence related, including the murder of Amy Theriault. Eight of the fourteen were children under the age of 13. Ten of the 25 homicides in 2015 were domestic violence related. 52 percent of the homicides that occurred over this two-year period were a result of domestic violence.

In the Foreward, Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills notes the following lessons from the report of the Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel:

1. Listen. Listen and watch for signs of abuse – control, manipulation, bruising, isolation.

2. Take threats of suicide very seriously.

3. After leaving a controlling partner, don’t return home without the assistance of law enforcement.

4. Take stalking seriously. It is an extremely dangerous behavior. In eight of the sixteen cases, perpetrators stalked or monitored their victims prior to committing homicide.

5. If you are a medical or behavioral health professional, always ask a patient (in private) if they feel safe at home, and follow up with a safety plan and appropriate referrals.

6. If you are a neighbor or a friend of a victim of violence, don’t be shy; offer help in any form. Even if it’s just … listening.

7. Listen. Listen to the pleas of the children whose innocence is gone, whose safety is stolen, whose health and security are threatened. Just listen.

A man has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Amy Theriault, but for those close to her, the life-long healing process has only just begun. And for those who are experiencing abuse at this very moment, we still have work to do.

For those in need of help and support, advocates at local resource centers like Hope & Justice Project are here to listen. For more information, visit their website atwww.hopeandjusticeproject.org or email us at info@hopeandjusticeproject.org. To speak with one of our advocates, please call our 24-hour hotline at 1-800-439-2323. Services are free and confidential.

Patricia Smith and Casey Faulkingham
Hope and Justice Project

Patricia Smith is the executive director of  the Hope and Justice Project and Casey Faulkingham is Prevention and Training Coordinator for the organization.

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