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  • NO MORE Silence

    NO MORE Silence

    When we stay silent, domestic violence thrives. This October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), we are calling on our communities to break the silence. Each of us must make it our business to speak up when we see or hear something troubling and to have conversations with friends, family, colleagues, youth, and others in our lives. Whether it be in our workplaces, schools, places of worship, or other community spaces, we can support survivors and their children by raising awareness of the issue and creating environments that do not tolerate domestic violence.
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  • Purple Purse Challenge

    Purple Purse Challenge

    The RICADV is excited to be participating in the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge this October! The Purple Purse Challenge is an annual friendly fundraising competition held during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, where nonprofit organizations serving victims and survivors of domestic violence engage their supporters and communities to help raise funds. The 2017 Purple Purse Challenge starts Monday, October 2 at 12 p.m. Stay tuned for details!
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  • RI Men's Summit

    RI Men's Summit

    Rhode Island men, join us for the 4th Annual Men's Summit on November 9, an event designed for and led by men who want to prevent domestic violence in our communities. Most men are not violent, but many remain silent in the face of other men’s violence. This November, take a stand with Ten Men to help break the silence. We ask our supporters to invite the men in their lives to get involved! To learn more and to register, visit ricadv.org/tenmen.
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  • State House Victories!

    State House Victories!

    This September, the Rhode Island General Assembly reconvened for a special session to review the bills they left unfinished in June - and we have great news! Several of the RICADV's priority bills have passed! 2017 legislative victories include disarming dangerous abusers and guaranteeing earned sick and safe days for RI employees.
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  • Latino Communities

    Latino Communities

    Oprima el botón “Read More” para acceder a nuestro sitio web en Español.

    At the RICADV, we engage Latino communities in Rhode Island to raise awareness about domestic violence, the services and resources that are available in our state, and the need for all of us to get involved to end abuse. Access our website in Spanish by clicking the "Read More" button below or En Español at the top of this page.

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The Newsroom

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Latest News


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, October 2, 2017

Letter to the Editor: When we stay silent, domestic violence thrives

By Deborah DeBare, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence


[Providence, RI – October 2, 2017] When we stay silent, domestic violence thrives. With 1 in 4 Rhode Islanders experiencing domestic violence in their lifetimes, and nearly 1 in 10 Rhode Island high schoolers reporting they have already experienced physical dating violence, we all know loved ones, neighbors, and friends who will be or have been impacted by abuse.

This October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), we are calling on our communities to break the silence. Each of us must make it our business to speak up when we see or hear something troubling and to have conversations with friends, family, colleagues, youth, and others in our lives.

. . .

Read More: Latest News

Safety for Children
A report on the impact of Rhode Island's custody system on victims of domestic violence and their children

Safety for Children ReportEven when victims of domestic violence attempt to build violence-free lives and protect their children, they too often continue to suffer injustice and abuse throughout the child custody and visitation process. As a result of this issue surfacing as a priority concern for its members, SOAR, with the support of the RICADV, launched the Child Custody and Visitation Solutions (CCVS) Project in 2007.

The objective of the project was to assess the effects of the custody and visitation process on domestic violence victims and their children and to create solutions to improve the system.

The importance of a collaborative process and community leadership led to the creation of the Child Custody and Visitation Advisory Committee (CCVAC). The role of the Advisory Committee was to guide the process and to facilitate the examination of the system’s response to victims and their children.

From May to October 2008, data was gathered through different methods, including surveys of survivors, focus groups, key informant interviews, case reviews, and research. The data was reviewed by members of the CCVAC, who then crafted the final recommendations.

This work resulted in the Safety for Children report, which was published in 2010 and can be read in full here.

 

 

  • Findings

  • Recommendations

SOAR and the Child Custody and Visitation Advisory Committee (CCVAC) examined the strengths and gaps of the child custody and visitation process in cases involving domestic violence.

In addition to meeting with attorneys and judges, SOAR held numerous focus groups and collected 101 surveys from domestic violence survivors who had gone through, or were currently going through, the Rhode Island child custody and visitation process.

From the information gathered, the committee identified some of the key problems of the Rhode Island family court system’s child custody and visitation process:

Children continue to suffer violence and abuse during the child custody and visitation process.

Violence continued to be a part of children’s lives, even as their victimized parent sought safety, in an overwhelming majority of the cases reviewed.

  • 89% of the survey respondents stated that their children witnessed domestic violence before and/or during the custody and visitation process.
  • According to survey respondents, 71% of their children were also abused by the abusive parent, and many of these children suffered from more than one type of abuse (Figure 1).
  • Moreover, 53% of the survey respondents reported that the child abuse occurred during visitation.
  • In spite of this reality, 58% of the participants’ cases where abuse was present were decided in favor of joint custody.
  • According to the survey results, the majority of children suffered some negative emotional and/or psychological consequences from the process (Figure 3). At least two parents in the survey commented on suicidal behavior by their children: “(My) five-year-old said she didn’t want to live, life was 'too difficult.'"

Services to protect children are insufficient.

  • Focus group participants had very little information about the Supervised Visitation Program. The main source of information they had about this service came from other survivors or another third party.
  • Focus group participants also expressed a distrust of the Supervised Visitation Program.
  • 75% of the survey participants who accessed supervised visitation services were unsatisfied with the supervision. “Lack of proper supervision” was the most frequent explanation for this dissatisfaction.

Child custody and visitation cases drive victims of domestic violence into debt and poverty.

  • 73% of victims surveyed were employed at the beginning of the child custody case.
  • About one-third reported to have lost their jobs as a direct consequence of the custody case. Another one-third perceived that the custody case had negative consequences on their employment (Figure 5).
  • According to the case reviews conducted, most cases had a final disposition in approximately one year, although subsequent miscellaneous motions made different proceedings ongoing. One woman reported being involved in different court proceedings for about 17 years.
  • For many survivors, the court process resembled the cycle of violence in abusive relationships (Figure 6).
    • “The tension phase” manifested itself by the abuser’s escalation of conflict and tension. 
    • During “the explosion phase,” the abuser used the court, police, and attorneys as a tool to harass or harm the victim.
    • In the “honeymoon phase,” the conflict diminished.

Victims of domestic violence continue to suffer abuse and violence.

  • 76% of victims reported being abused during a visitation exchange, with most suffering more than one type of abuse (Figure 8).
  • 81% of the visitation exchanges took place in the victim’s or batterer’s home.
  • Participants in the focus groups chronicled being followed, harassed, threatened, and assaulted, even in cases where a valid restraining order was in effect. Some of this intimidation took place inside the courthouse.

Domestic violence is minimized.

  • 82% of the victims interviewed in focus groups said that domestic violence was either minimized or filtered out of their child custody and visitation case.
  • In 64% of the cases where the court took action after a domestic violence report was made, the most common action was granting a restraining order.
  • Restraining orders granted in child custody and visitation cases are treated as a civil matter and are not enforceable by the police.
  • 57% of the participants’ cases have joint custody despite the existence of domestic violence.

SOAR and the CCVAC developed the following recommendations to help victims and their children safely navigate the custody and visitation process in Rhode Island’s family court system.

However, they also recognize that the effective implementation of these proposed recommendations will require a community approach. Due to the complexity of this issue, one system alone cannot make all the changes that are needed. For this reason, the CCVAC intentionally crafted the recommendations not as mandates for one system but as an open invitation for the Rhode Island community to get involved in improving this process.

Recommendations:

  1. Coordinate court services and information-sharing strategies within the court system to reduce fragmentation and to provide continuity and consistency in cases involving domestic violence.
  2. Implement court protocols that ensure the safety of victims and their children in custody and visitation cases.
  3. Utilize statutes and policies to prevent abusers from using the court system to further victimize domestic violence victims and their children.
  4. Create programs that provide information about parental rights, education about the court process, and advocacy services to victims of domestic violence during the custody and visitation process.
  5. Recommend changes to the Rhode Island General Laws to create a clear custody standard and guidelines to be followed in domestic violence cases.
  6. Create safe visitation centers and safe exchange programs throughout the state to ensure accessibility for domestic violence victims and their children.
  7. Develop collaboration among all stakeholders to increase victims’ access to a) affordable and competent legal representation and b) guardians ad litem and other resources that benefit children who are impacted by domestic violence.
  8. Expand the Rhode Island Family Court Domestic Violence Advocacy Program and other court services to provide consistent case management, information, referrals, and assistance with investigation of child custody and visitation in all cases where domestic violence has been identified.
  9. Establish specialized domestic violence courtrooms in all counties.
  10. Educate attorneys about domestic violence to enhance representation of domestic violence victims and to protect children in divorce and child custody and visitation cases.
  11. Increase judicial awareness of the ongoing impact of domestic violence and the court process on victims of domestic violence and their children in order to increase the number of times special safety considerations are ordered in cases involving domestic violence.
  12. Strengthen domestic violence education for professionals who are involved in the custody and visitation process, including but not limited to mediators, guardians ad litem, Family Court Investigative Unit staff, supervised visitation facilitators and mental health professionals.

Communications Center

  • Domestic Violence Awareness Month +

    We conduct statewide public awareness campaigns during October, national Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), as a way to break the silence and stigma around domestic violence, raise up the voices and experiences of survivors, provide information about help and resources, and educate and engage our communities.
    Read More
  • Online Guide for Journalists +

    We work with statewide and local media to increase awareness about domestic violence, the services and resources available for people impacted by abuse, and the ways the community can get involved to help. Visit the RICADV's Online Guide for Journalists for best practices in covering domestic violence.
    Read More
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2017 Purple Purse Challenge

2017 Purple Purse Challenge

The RICADV is participating in the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge this October, a friendly fundraising competition held during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The 2017 Purple Purse Challenge starts Monday, October 2 at 12 p.m. Stay tuned for details!

Spotlight

  • Be Tech Safe
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Your abuser may monitor your Internet use and may be able to view your computer activity.

To immediately leave our site and redirect to a different site, click on the box to the bottom-right of our website or hit the ESC (Escape) key on the upper-left of your keyboard.

If you feel that your computer is not secure, use a computer in another location that your abuser cannot access.

For more information and tips for staying safe online and on your devices, click "Read More" to visit the Privacy & Technology section of our website.

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Looking to get involved in the movement to end domestic violence?

Sign up to join our mailing list, and receive mail and emails from the RICADV!

Visit our Calendar of Events to find local and online events.

AmazonSmile-webWhat is AmazonSmile?

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support the RICADV every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at http://smile.amazon.com, you'll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to the RICADV.

On your first visit to AmazonSmile, you need to select a charitable organization to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping. Choose the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence to support us. Amazon will remember your selection, and then every eligible purchase you make on AmazonSmile will result in a donation.

About the RICADV

The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. Formed in 1979, the organization provides support to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and provides leadership on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island.

Member Agencies

The RICADV's network of member agencies provide comprehensive services to victims, including emergency shelter, support groups, counseling, and assistance with the legal system. For more information about these organizations and services, call the statewide Helpline at 800-494-8100 or click here.

Contact

422 Post Road, Suite 102
Warwick, RI 02888-1539

T (401) 467-9940
F (401) 467-9943