BANGOR, Maine — The Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office’s efforts to help victims of domestic violence got a $10,000 boost earlier this week.
The donation was made in memory of Amy Lake and her two children, Coty and Monica, who were murdered by her estranged husband, Steven, in their home in June of 2011. Steven Lake then killed himself.
The presentation was particularly timely as October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Maine.
Close family friend Kelly Gay, chairman of the Amy, Cote and Monica Memorial 5K Committee, represented the family during Tuesday’s news conference. Ralph and Linda Bagley of Harmony, who are Amy Lake’s parents and the children’s grandparents, were on hand but opted not to speak at that time.
Gay said the group puts on an event each year in their honor to raise money to “save lives of people who are in the same situation.”
Candace Sabo of Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance, which serves people affected by domestic violence in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, said the funds will help pay for stays at motels or hotels, gas cards, 911 cell phones and other things “that often are huge barriers for victims” trying to escape domestic violence.
Having access to those things provide time for victims to piece together short-term and long-range safety plans, she said.
Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton said the funds will be put to good use.
“We are so appreciative of the donation today on behalf of Amy and her children and what that impact [it will have] to help deputies to help other victims,” Morton said when he accepted the gift on Tuesday.
“We want to make sure that we don’t let this story settle,” Morton said.
“It has had a tremendous impact and although we can’t bring Amy and the kids back, their memory and what they have done for domestic violence training and changing legislation is enormous,” he said.
Morton said that thanks to recent legislation aimed at improving victim safety, additional training, the implementation of the Ontario Domestic Abuse Risk Assessment, or ODARA, and the use of pretrial services that include electronic monitoring, police officers are better prepared today to respond to the needs of domestic violence victims.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 1-866-834-4357, TRS 1-800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.