SKOWHEGAN — Martin Hainer spoke up Thursday night against domestic violence.

“We all know it’s out there, but you never know how bad it is out there until it happens to you, to someone you love,” Hainer said in a circle of about 35 other people, all holding candles in a vigil against domestic violence. “I want it to stop. My daughter was beaten severely.”

Hainer said he wants to strengthen state law to prevent domestic violence incidents.

His daughter, Jessica Hainer, 28, said she was beaten and strangled in July by her then-boyfriend, Ryan Quimby, 33, of Madison. Quimby currently is on the Somerset County ankle bracelet program for electronic monitoring of people who have been charged but not yet convicted of domestic violence. Quimby was arrested July 21 on charges of domestic violence assault, domestic violence terrorizing and criminal mischief.

His case still is pending.

“The person who brutalized me has an ankle bracelet on. I think that’s the only reason why he stays away from me,” Jessica Hainer said, her voice still scratchy from having been strangled. “He strangled me, he bit me, he slapped me, he kicked me, he pulled my hair and he sprayed Coleman’s tent spray in my eyes. Then he threw a big log at my friend’s car and it snapped off and hit me in the face.”

The Rev. Nathan Richards, pastor of the Norridgewock and Solon Congregational churches, offered the opening and closing prayers for the candlelight vigil, sponsored by the Somerset County Domestic Violence Task Force in Coburn Park in Skowhegan to “remember those who have been hurt” by domestic violence.

Michael Pike, a Somerset County deputy and the domestic violence investigator for the district attorney’s office, then read a list of names of 11 victims who died as a result of domestic violence in Maine in 2017.

With each name, Beth Crowe of the Family Violence Project, sounded a metal bell.

Crowe then read recommendations from the Homicide Review Panel on ways to avoid and deal with potential domestic violence incidents.

“Listen,” Crowe said. “Listen and watch for signs of abuse — control, manipulation, bruising, isolation” and “take threats of suicide very seriously.”

Crowe read the list of seven suggestions before telling the gathering that in the time it took to read the message, someone had committed an act of violence against a family member and a child was left without a safe, happy home.

“A life is changed forever,” she said.

Others spoke quietly about their experiences before Beverly Busque, a Fairfield town councilor and former corrections officer, led the gathering singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, said this week that the vigil takes place every year and her office and other domestic violence advocates always want to be talking about domestic violence and about how to prevent it in the community.

But this year, she said, with the Robert Burton murder trial resulting in a guilty verdict and the triple domestic violence homicide July 5 in Madison being so recent, “they’re absolutely at the forefront of our minds as we prepare for the vigil.”

Of the 46 people who were victims of homicide in 2014 and 2015 in Maine, the two most recent years included in a 2016 study, 24 were killed by an intimate partner or family member, according to the study.

Perpetrators committed 21 homicides in 2014 — 14 of which the Maine Department of Public Safety categorized as “domestic” homicides. Offenders committed 25 homicides in 2015, 10 of which were categorized as domestic homicides. Together, the 24 domestic violence homicides committed during that two-year period accounted for 52 percent of Maine’s total homicides.

Over the past decade, domestic homicides have accounted for 47 percent, nearly half, of Maine’s total homicides. Domestic violence can take many forms short of murder — stalking, verbal and physical abuse, refusing to allow an intimate partner access to friends, family, finances, even cellphones.

It’s all about power and control, officials say. Friends, family and neighbors — witnesses — should speak up if they see anything out of the ordinary in a relationship, which is what people were doing Thursday night.

Maine ranked ninth-highest in the nation for homicides that men committed against women.

In Maine, 82 percent of domestic violence victims are women, said Crowe, an education director at the Family Violence Project. She said there were 5,857 calls to the project’s hot line from Oct. 1, 2015, through Sept. 30, 2016.

Many who attended the vigil walked down Water Street in Skowhegan with their candles for a quiet group discussion at the Skowhegan Town Office.

On Saturday, starting at 8 a.m. on the campus of Good Will-Hinckley in Fairfield, there will be a 5 kilometer race/walk against domestic violence. The race begins and ends at Prescott Hall. All proceeds will benefit the Family Violence Project, whose mission is to end domestic violence by increasing victim safety, empowering survivors and advocating for social change.

Ken’s Restaurant in Skowhegan also is donating proceeds from the sale of desserts to the Family Violence Project.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow