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  • Get Off the Bench!

    This October, we launched a new statewide public awareness campaign for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The campaign featured URI student athletes speaking out against domestic violence and asking their fellow Rhode Islanders to do the same. The campaign could be seen on buses and billboards throughout the state as well as public service announcements on television, radio, and Pandora. Domestic violence impacts all of us, and it will take all of us, together, to end it. How will you get off the bench? How will you play your part?
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  • Member Agencies

    The RICADV's six local domestic violence agencies provide a wide array of services for victims, including 24-hour hotline support, emergency shelter, support groups, counseling services, and assistance with the legal system. For more information about these organizations and services, call the statewide Helpline at 800-494-8100 or click below. If you see or hear someone being hurt, call 911 immediately.

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  • Latino Outreach

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

    At the RICADV, we proactively serve the Latino community, collaborating with Rhode Island businesses to further our reach to those experiencing abuse. During our public awareness campaigns, we have partnered with Telemundo, Providence en Español, and Latina 100.3 FM to help Latino communities know that help is available through our member agencies. Each agency offers diverse programs and services that can include safety planning, court advocacy, shelter, and support groups. Immigration help is also available. 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

Deborah DeBare Recognized for 20 Years of Service as Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

A visionary leader, Deborah DeBare has devoted her career to ending domestic violence in Rhode Island

[Providence, RI – November 24, 2015] Times have changed over the last 20 years, but Deborah DeBare’s commitment to ending domestic violence has never wavered. This month, she celebrates her twentieth year serving as Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV).

“For the past 20 years, Deborah DeBare has been an extraordinary leader and visionary advocate on behalf of domestic violence victims throughout Rhode Island,” said Kim A. Gandy, President and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. “She has built and empowered an impressive statewide coalition that has changed both laws and lives.”

"Deborah DeBare is the heart of RICADV. Her tireless advocacy and unending compassion for families [impacted by domestic violence] is the foundation for their brighter, healthier, safer futures. Congratulations on a distinguished 20 years at the RICADV, and thank you for being a hero to so many Rhode Islanders," said Congressman Jim Langevin.

. . .

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.


  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

  • Communicating our work to end DV is vital +

    Communicating the work to end domestic violence is vital. Visit our Communications Center and The Newsroom to KNOW MORE. Read More
  • Public Awareness +

    Raising awareness to end domestic violence is part of our mission. Learn how we keep the issue visible in our communities. Read More
  • Handbook for Journalists +

    The media can help break the silence and educate the public. Visit our online guide for journalists covering domestic violence.
    Read More
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Teen Center

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KNOW MORE: Relationship abuse happens among teens, too. Visit our Teen Center during the launch of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month in February 2015 for interactive tools!


  • Be Tech Safe
  • News & Events
  • 35 Years of Progress
  • AmazonSmile

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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
or just want to KNOW MORE?

Visit our Calendar of Events to find a myriad of local and
social media events.

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spotlight image lisaleslie35th Anniversary Celebration

In 2014, the RICADV celebrated 35 years of progress in advocating for victims and holding abusers accountable.

On October 9, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we commemorated this milestone with special guest Lisa Leslie, WNBA legend, four-time Olympic gold medalist, and supporter of the national NO MORE campaign against domestic violence.

We thank everyone who has played a part in helping us move our work forward. Together we can end domestic violence.

Visit our 35th anniversary page to watch a special video, view photos of the event (coming soon!), and more.

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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, you'll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as, 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. We were formed in 1979 to support and assist the six domestic violence prevention agencies in Rhode Island. We provide leadership to our member agencies, strive to create justice for victims, and raise awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island.

Member Agencies

The RICADV's six local domestic violence agencies provide a wide array of services for victims, including 24-hour hotline support, emergency shelter, support groups, counseling services, 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. If you hear or see someone being hurt, call 911 immediately.


Contact Details

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

T (401) 467-9940

F (401) 467-9943