PORTLAND – Gov. Paul LePage told members of the Cheverus High School football team Wednesday that domestic violence isn’t the result of illness or an abusive childhood, like the one he and his 17 siblings suffered.

“What it has to do with is attitude and control,” he said.

LePage asked the 35 or so underclassmen to be on alert for incidents of domestic violence and be in control of their own actions. “My best advice is to take it out on the football field,” he said.

The football team, which visited LePage at the Blaine House in the winter after winning the state championship, signed a petition Wednesday to stand behind the governor in his efforts to end domestic violence.

LePage’s visit to Cheverus, which also included an all-school assembly and a public forum with law enforcement officials and domestic-violence advocates, was the latest stop in his crusade to end domestic violence — and not the last.

Adrienne Bennett, the governor’s press secretary, said plans are in the works for LePage to speak to other school groups about the issue, which is personal to him.

LePage left his home in Lewiston when he was 11 to escape his father’s abuse, he said Wednesday.

Because men are the aggressors in 80 percent of domestic-violence cases, he said, it’s up to them to end it.

“You and I have to beat this problem by making it socially unacceptable,” he told the football team.

LePage said that twice in college he nearly got in trouble with the law when he tried to break up domestic-violence situations.

He recalled one incident when he stood up to a husband who was beating his wife.

“I was given a pretty stern talking-to by the sheriff,” said LePage.

Regardless, he said, “I would do it again.”

He recounted another incident when he kicked a man out of his Marden’s store after hearing him beat his 2-year-old son in the bathroom.

Cavan Dudley, a sophomore on the football team, asked LePage what people should do if they see a domestic-violence situation.

“Talk him down. It really works,” he said.

Though LePage said he had to get aggressive when trying to stop the man from beating his wife, that’s not the best approach.

“I’m not advocating to use violence, but you do what you’ve got to do to resolve the issue,” he said.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

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