Accessibility Tools
Enable Recite

FP Hotline - Visible Phone

helpline desktop

helpline-desktop

helpline-desktop

Statement regarding the domestic violence murder of Courtney Huard
By Toni Marie Gomes, executive director, Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, and Lucy Rios, interim executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

CUMBERLAND, R.I., July 22, 2022 – We are deeply saddened by the domestic violence homicide of Courtney Huard, who was fatally shot by her husband, Eric Huard, in their Cumberland home nearly a month ago, before he turned the gun on himself. Devastatingly, their children were home at the time of the murder-suicide and are now left without their parents. This domestic violence murder-suicide happened just before the start of what would have been an ordinary school day.

Courtney was a person – a friend, neighbor, community member, parent and a loved one to many. Courtney had dreams, goals and aspirations, all cut short by the final form of domestic violence: homicide. The aftermath of this murder-suicide impacts not only those who loved Courtney and Eric, but the community at large and the children who witnessed this violence.

In 2020 alone, children were reported present in 1,368 domestic violence incidents in Rhode Island that resulted in arrest, per the 2022 Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Factbook – a number that reflects only a percentage of the children witnessing violence at home, since domestic abuse is underreported. Each year in our state, children are present in nearly 2,000 police-involved domestic violence incidents. A total of 486 children who witnessed abuse received services from the RICADV’s network of member agencies in 2020, and because domestic violence is underreported, we know we are reaching only some of the children impacted by abuse in Rhode Island.

The children present during this murder-suicide in Cumberland are not only grieving the loss of their parents and navigating this crisis of domestic violence and gun violence right now – this hole in their lives and the trauma they have experienced will impact their futures and generations of their family. Witnessing domestic violence as a child can lead to serious long-term health and development issues, including depression, drug use, poor academic achievement and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Domestic abuse happens every day, in every Rhode Island city and town, and affects us all. Domestic violence is a community issue that calls for a community response.

As individuals, as a community and as a state, we have a role and responsibility to name domestic violence, know the warning signs, support those impacted by abuse and find ways to safely intervene. Rhode Island must continue to strengthen the response to domestic violence, to ensure no more lives are lost and no more children experience the traumatic loss of their loved ones.

How you can help: As relatives, friends, coworkers and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who might be, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100 or use the online chat feature at www.ricadv.org or www.bvacri.org.

Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs and connect them with local resources. Additional information can be found at www.ricadv.org.

About the BVAC: The Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center has been providing services to victims of domestic violence in the Blackstone Valley area for over three decades, and now offers services in Providence County and northern Rhode Island. It is their voices, their struggles and their experiences, which guide our work. BVAC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide comprehensive services to victims of domestic and sexual violence and to provide education and awareness on the issue of domestic violence. Visit www.bvacri.org for more information.

About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island and to provide statewide leadership on the issue. The organization has ten member agencies, strives to create justice for victims and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

###
Releases & Statements – 2022
  • Statements

  • 3/23/2022 - Statement regarding the domestic violence murder of Sherbert Maddox

    Statement regarding the domestic violence murder of Sherbert Maddox

     

    By Toni Marie Gomes, executive director, Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, and Lucy Rios, interim executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    PROVIDENCE, R.I., March 23, 2022 – We are heartbroken by the domestic violence homicide of Sherbert Maddox, who was killed by a man believed to be her partner in the home they shared.

    Maddox was known as a beautiful soul by her loved ones, and this devastating loss of life leaves a profound emptiness in the hearts of her friends and family and the entire community. Loved ones shared their messages of grief and sorrow after Maddox was killed, and our hearts ache for those who will continue to be impacted by this violence and the void it has left in their lives.


    Maddox’s life was stolen from her by a person who had a history of domestic abuse – the single biggest predictor of lethality risk of domestic violence homicide. Police said it appeared Maddox was killed after being shot, and there were multiple firearms in the home. Access to guns is another domestic violence homicide risk factor, and 
    the presence of a gun can be the determining factor in whether or not a perpetrator’s attack becomes deadly.

    We can help break the cycle of violence by doing more to prevent domestic abuse homicides from happening. All systems including the courts, law enforcement and gun dealers must do more to ensure firearms stay out of the hands of dangerous individuals. This should include court officials monitoring case files, conducting compliance review hearings and enforcing court orders with appropriate remedies. R.I. courts should utilize specialized check lists that prompt judges to ask about the presence, location and surrender-status of firearms in all domestic violence cases to prevent these gun-related homicides.


    As friends, relatives, colleagues and neighbors, we may be the first people to learn about the violence a victim is experiencing. Resources are available to both victims and bystanders looking to support their loved ones by connecting with a domestic violence victim advocate via the 24/7 confidential statewide Helpline at 800-494-8100, or using the online chat at 
    www.ricadv.org or www.bvacri.org.

Releases & Statements – 2021
  • Releases

  • Statements

  • 12/14/2021 - RICADV announces leadership change

    Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence announces leadership change

    By Janet Marcantonio, president, RICADV Board of Directors

    WARWICK, R.I., Dec. 14, 2021 – As we prepare to close out another year of change and resilience in our state, we at the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) announce a change on the horizon in our leadership. It is with both sadness and gratitude that we announce Tonya King, our executive director, will be leaving her role with us to join the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) as the Vice President of Programs and Membership in January.

    We are immensely grateful for the time, energy and heart Tonya poured into her work at the RICADV the last several years. She has been a tremendous advocate for survivors and their families and all those who are the heartbeat of our state’s response to domestic violence. Tonya has been steadfast in ensuring we are centering those most impacted by abuse, and passionately raising the alarm about the urgent needs of survivors and their children. She has led with courage, compassion and kindness, and we know she will continue her tireless work for survivors as she joins the NNEDV team.

    Lucy Rios, the current deputy director, will serve as interim executive director. Lucy brings 18 years of experience at the RICADV, where she has worked fiercely to support victims and their families for nearly two decades. Lucy’s wealth of knowledge about the movement to end domestic abuse, including the importance of prevention of violence before it starts, has moved the RICADV mission forward. We look forward to Lucy leading the RICADV and providing stability and continuity with passion and commitment to survivors and their families in Rhode Island.

    The RICADV Board of Directors expresses its deep appreciation to Tonya for leading the RICADV and for lifting the voices of survivors in our state. We congratulate her on this new journey and are grateful that she will remain in the movement to end domestic violence.

  • 12/8/2021 - Letter to the editor: A world without violence is possible — if we act

    A world without violence is possible — if we act

    By Jessica Walsh, executive director, Women's Resource Center

    Imagine a world with no domestic violence — where no Rhode Islanders have their lives cut short by abuse, where children do not witness this violence, where our communities are not traumatized by these horrors. Imagine a Rhode Island without court hearings or hospitalizations resulting from abuse, where years of counseling and support wouldn’t be necessary because no lives are upended by domestic violence. What does it look like?

    Imagine all the lives we’d save — the way communities would thrive, the way children would spend time playing and laughing rather than in hours of counseling working through their traumas. Imagine all the heartache, energy and time we would save in a Rhode Island without domestic abuse.

    In the movement committed to eradicating domestic violence, we aspire toward a future where victims’ services are unnecessary because domestic and sexual abuse is no longer inevitable, and where all people are able to live safe, healthy lives in vibrant communities, but decades of chronic underinvestment has forced our movement to focus on short-term solutions that address the most critical and urgent impacts of domestic violence as we support survivors in their journey to safety.

    In the near term, the recovery and resiliency of survivors — particularly when we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic — will depend on significant investment to get survivors who need us to long-lasting safety, allowing them to rebuild their lives and thrive after abuse. Survivors are often the “invisible population” facing life-threatening danger and inequities. This reality existed before COVID-19, and has only been intensified by the short-term and long-term impacts the pandemic has on victims and their families.

    Domestic abuse, compounded by the pandemic, has left Rhode Islanders physically, emotionally and financially harmed. The Women’s Resource Center and the other member agencies of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence have the expertise and experience to do this work. We need increased investment to meet the immense need in our communities. Recovery must focus on a meaningful short-term infusion of resources to support and improve services for victims.

    With the American Rescue Plan Act funding, we also have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make substantial changes that can prevent domestic violence for future generations — and we must act on this immediately. The resilience of survivors and communities will require courageous leadership and a willingness to propose what we know we need to do to end domestic abuse.

    We must make impactful investments in both an adequate response to abuse and in preventative factors including safe, affordable housing, financial equity, livable wages and access to quality health and child care in our communities. These kind of supports can stop abuse before it starts.

    We can end the cycle and prevent domestic violence for future generations — if we act.

    Jessica Walsh is the executive director of the Women’s Resource Center, a member agency of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, that has been serving victims of abuse and their families for over 40 years.

  • 10/28/2021 - Women’s Resource Center and Newport Mental Health Certified as BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zones

    Women’s Resource Center and Newport Mental Health Certified as BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zones

    NEWPORT, R.I., Oct. 28, 2021 – Newport Mental Health and Women’s Resource Center (WRC) have received designation as LGBTQ Safe Zones by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI). These are the first two Newport County agencies to become part of the BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zone Program, which certifies providers and community-based organizations identifying themselves as supporters of the LGBTQ community.

    “Every person deserves safe and healthy relationships,” WRC Executive Director Jessica Walsh said. “Domestic violence does not discriminate, and can impact anyone regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or social status – though the burden of domestic abuse is not shared equally. Domestic violence occurs in LGBTQ relationships at similar or higher rates than in heterosexual, cisgender relationships, and studies show gay men and bisexual women are at an increased risk for experiencing severe physical violence in intimate relationships.”

    She continued, “At the Women’s Resource Center, we understand the critical need for trauma-informed support and affirming care for LGBTQIA+ survivors. All survivors deserve to be supported, believed and valued, especially those who face additional barriers including discrimination and differential treatment in their journey to safety and rebuilding their lives after abuse.”

    “The Safe Zone certification goes far beyond gender-neutral bathrooms, although that’s a good start,” said Newport Mental Health CEO and President Jamie Lehane. “Inclusion and equity are paramount, and we want to be sensitive and welcoming to all populations, cultures and ethnicities. For the Safe Zone Program, all of our staff, including receptionists, clinicians, finance and others, have undergone extensive training. We’ve modified our intake forms, emails, and other documentation. We want everyone who comes through our doors to know we are here for them and will do whatever it takes to help them in an affirming and positive way.”

    BCBSRI launched its LGBTQ Safe Zone program in 2016. The program has now certified more than 40 Safe Zone providers in locations across Rhode Island representing a number of specialties, primary and dental health and behavioral health services. This program helps facilitate access to affirming care for this under-served community with specific healthcare needs, one that has historically struggled with healthcare interactions, and has often forgone necessary regular care due to feelings of alienation, stress, frustration and fear. Certified entities must meet a number of requirements reflecting policies, procedures, and physical space related to equity and inclusion for LGBTQ patients.

    “Seeing the Safe Zone logo in the window helps members of the LGBTQ community know that they will receive culturally competent, inclusive and affirming care when they walk through that door,” said Carolyn Belisle, BCBSRI managing director of corporate social responsibility. “We applaud Newport Mental Health and Women’s Resource Center for their tremendous commitment.”

    “The Newport Health Equity Zone's LGBTQ+ Health working group is thrilled to see these two Island agencies take the huge strides to achieve the BCBSRI Safe Zone designation,” said Rex LeBeau, strategy specialist at the Health Equity Zone. “It's a great first step in the commitment to serve LGBTQIA+ clients. We hope that now more local LGBTQIA+ people will receive the healthcare and support that they need and will feel like their community sees them, cares about them, and will continue to adopt affirming care practices.”


    The Women’s Resource Center provides programs and services for domestic violence victims and their families, including counseling supports, shelter and housing services and court and family advocacy. The 24/7 statewide confidential Helpline can be reached at 1-800-494-8100, or via online chat at www.ricadv.org.

    Newport Mental Health, a federally Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic offers evidence-based mental health services to the 82,000 residents of Newport County, regardless of ability to pay. On an annual basis, NMH serves over 1,450 high risk adults and children at its five locations.

    To learn more about the BCBSRI LGBTQ Safe Zone Program, find certified providers or for providers interested in certification requirements, visit bcbsri.com/providers/safezone-program.

  • 11/2021 - Letter to the editor: Victims can't wait for safety: Invest ARPA funds now

    Victims can't wait for safety: Invest ARPA funds now

    By Mary Roda, executive director, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County

    At a time when the needs of domestic and sexual violence survivors have never been greater, our state has faced drastic cuts to critical funding – affecting how we advocates do our work, and support available for victims and their families when they reach out for help.

    Advocate roles at the Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County – as well as other agencies in the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence – have been cut, including multiple court advocates the last two years. Emergency shelter and transitional housing space is full. Emergency shelter we provide is intended to be used for 30 to 60 days before survivors move into transitional or permanent housing. The lack of affordable housing options prioritizing victims fleeing violence means survivors must stay in shelter much longer. Longer stays mean less space for additional victims in crisis. Beyond the shelter and housing we provide, survivors have nowhere to go. As we work tirelessly to patch up holes in the blanket of safety we provide for survivors, we continue to be stretched thinner.

    We’re at a pivotal moment with the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Though the need to invest in services for survivors is not new, it has intensified dramatically during the pandemic. By investing ARPA funds into support for victims, we can begin to address the housing and services crisis survivors face.

    Lack of investment in support for victims has weakened the entire continuum of care. It has impaired our ability to support survivors from crisis response through the many years it can take for victims to rebuild their lives so overwhelmingly impacted by abuse. Victims can’t wait for safety. We must invest ARPA funds immediately in meaningful ways to make a difference in the lives of survivors – and save lives.

    Mary Roda serves as the executive director of the Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County (DVRCSC), an agency serving survivors of domestic abuse and their families for over 40 years. DVRCSC is a member of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

  • 10/2021 - Op-ed: No time to wait – lives depend on ARPA funds

    No time to wait lives depend on ARPA funds

    By Tonya King, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    Rhode Island is the only state in the northeast that has not spent any American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) emergency funds, and we urge the General Assembly to reconvene immediately to meet the urgent, life-threatening needs of our community. The COVID-19 pandemic has devastating effects on Black, Indigenous and people of color communities as well as on survivors of domestic violence, leaving them even more vulnerable. On top of this crisis, agencies serving domestic abuse victims face more devastating cuts to Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding in R.I., which are bound to cut programs and advocate positions who respond to victims in need. Survivors and their families cannot wait in this time of drastic needs - they need assistance now. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we join advocates across the state in calling for immediate investment from ARPA funding for the most vulnerable communities, including victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

    We cannot leave vulnerable communities in R.I. behind. The time is now to act on this rare opportunity to make a transformational investment in response to this multi-layered crisis. When survivors of violence call out with their critical needs, Rhode Island must answer.

  • 9/2021 - Op-ed: Abortion bans pose grave danger to victims of abuse

    Abortion bans pose grave danger to victims of abuse

    By Tonya King, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    A threat to the safety and wellbeing of people who can become pregnant – including survivors of violence – is a threat that ripples beyond state borders. We are horrified by Texas’ SB 8 law, which bans abortions before many know they are pregnant and denies women and birthing people the right to make health care decisions about their own bodies.

    This law is life-threatening, especially for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Pregnancy increases serious assault or homicide risk in abusive relationships. Reproductive coercion, including intimidation, birth control sabotage, threats and violence are tactics abusers use to control their partner’s choices. Victims can be impregnated by their partner against their will. Add in barriers to safety many survivors face including poverty, and these risk factors increase.

    SB 8 also allows people to police their neighbors as vigilantes, allowing them to sue community members if they suspect a person provided support to someone seeking an abortion after six weeks. This strips survivors of community support, a protective factor against violence.

    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence affirms all people have the right to live their lives free from fear and violence – including the right to make decisions about their bodily autonomy.

    The RICADV is a member of the Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, and has supported the Reproductive Privacy Act, securing the rights established in Roe v. Wade into R.I. state law.

  • 8/24/2021 - Statement regarding the domestic violence homicide of Kenneth McClain

    Statement regarding the domestic violence homicide of Kenneth McClain

    By Toni Marie Gomes, executive director, Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, and Lucy Rios, deputy director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    PROVIDENCE, R.I., Aug. 24, 2021 Our hearts go out to the loved ones of Kenneth McClain, 33, who was killed in a domestic violence homicide by his roommate. McClain’s life was stolen from him after he was stabbed and succumbed from his injuries, and our thoughts are with the other roommates who were present at the time of the murder and have to cope with this trauma for the rest of their lives.

    McClain was killed by Marcus Huffman Jones, who has a history of domestic violence. Domestic abuse homicides are not isolated incidents, and occur after a pattern of escalating violent behaviors. Our condolences will not bring McClain back, and this loss of life affects not only McClain’s family and friends, but the entire community. Domestic abuse can and does happen in every zip code, and creates painful, long-lasting ripple effects on our state.

    We are devastated by this murder and by the violence happening in Providence. Abuse and violence do not happen in a vacuum. These issues are not problems stemming from individuals. Community conditions that allow violence to thrive, including poverty and a lack of community connectedness, are some of the root causes of abuse. By investing in the social determinants of health, such as safe, affordable housing, we can better support survivors who have already experienced abuse and also create safe, supportive environments that help prevent domestic violence before it happens in the first place. To prevent domestic abuse, we must invest in our communities, many of which have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and its long-lasting effects.

    The Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, a RICADV member agency, has recently opened a drop-in center in Providence at 693 Broad Street to better address community needs. During a time of such loss, we want the community to know we are here and want to help. The drop-in center offers services to victims of domestic violence and their families including safety planning, support groups in English and Spanish on weekends and evenings for accessibility and a Community Action Partnership of Providence County collaboration providing resources including a food bank, assistance with rent and utilities and workforce development. Domestic violence is a community issue, and it deserves a community response.


    About the BVAC: The Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center has been providing services to victims of domestic violence in the Blackstone Valley area for over three decades, and now offers services in Providence. It is their voices, their struggles and their experiences, which guide our work. BVAC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence and to provide education and awareness on the issue of domestic violence. Visit bvadvocacycenter.org for more information.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of full member agencies (Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center and Women’s Resource Center) provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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. You can also use the 24/7 confidential chat feature at www.ricadv.org.

  • 6/22/2021 - Statement regarding the domestic violence homicide of Marcia Hughes

    Statement regarding the domestic violence homicide of Marcia Hughes

    By Judith Earle, executive director, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, and Tonya King Harris, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence 



    WARWICK,  R.I., June 22, 2021 – Our hearts are heavy as we grapple with the loss of Marcia Hughes, 74, a Rhode Islander whose life was stolen from her in a domestic violence homicide on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.


    Marcia was killed by her husband Martin Hughes, also 74, at their West Warwick home on June 15, where Martin shot Marcia before turning the gun on himself in an attempted suicide. Marcia was a mother, sister, grandmother, nurse and community member. We mourn the loss of Marcia, and share our deepest condolences with her loved ones.

    This is a painful reminder that domestic abuse can happen regardless of a person’s age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 10 adults over 60 are abused, neglected and/or exploited financially. Elder abuse is not limited to violence inflicted on elderly individuals from their caretakers or family members, but also between elderly partners.

    Domestic violence murders and connected attempted suicides are not uncommon. These acts of abuse not only steal lives and impact the family members and friends of those involved – this abuse affects the entire community. A year ago this week, Rhode Island was beginning to mourn the loss of another community member to a domestic violence homicide in 2020 – Tanya Gagnon, who was shot and killed by her partner who later turned the gun on himself. We are devastated this loss of life continues to happen.

    Access to firearms in a domestic violence situation heightens the likelihood of homicide, making the risk of these murders five times greater than if a firearm was not present. The past several domestic homicides in our state where an abuser committed or attempted suicide have all had something in common: Guns were used as the lethal weapon. Access to firearms as well as suicidal threats are considered lethality risk factors in domestic abuse situations.

    As noted in the RICADV’s report, “Domestic Violence Homicides in Rhode Island 2006-2015,” firearms are the most commonly used weapons in these cases, and claim the highest number of victims in our state.


    About the EBCC: The mission of the Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center is to end the perpetration and societal tolerance of interpersonal violence, including all forms of domestic and sexual abuse and, until that is achieved, to provide comprehensive services to victims and education in the community. The organization primarily serves Coventry, Cranston, East Greenwich, Foster, Johnston, North Providence, Scituate, Warwick, West Warwick and West Greenwich. The Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center is a member of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. For more information, call the EBCC hotline at 401-738-1700 or visit www.ebccenter.org.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of full member agencies (Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center and Women’s Resource Center) provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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. You can also use the 24/7 confidential chat feature at www.ricadv.org.

  • 1/12/2021 - Statement regarding the U.S. Capitol attack and our nation's history of racial violence

    Statement regarding the U.S. Capitol attack and our nation's history of racial violence

    By Tonya King Harris, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence 

     

    WARWICK R.I., Jan. 12, 2021 – The first week of 2021 was a heavy and difficult one. Collectively, we looked in horror at images many thought unfathomable in our country. The wake of the deadly, violent acts at the U.S. Capitol left destruction and death, and made the vulnerability of our democracy and institutions evident. The attack at the U.S. Capitol was horrific, devastating and, in many ways, predictable. Ugly symbols of historic hatred and white nationalism, such as the confederate battle flag and Nazi imagery were on full display in the very seat of our democracy. Considering this an isolated attack would be a mistake, as what happened on January 6 is part of a much deeper, embedded framework of centuries of the normalization of violence, white supremacy, racism and oppression.

    The insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is a visible sign of a profound and widespread problem in our country, including Rhode Island. As we reflect and take a good, hard look at ourselves and our values, we are all long overdue in acknowledging double standards that shaped the founding of this country - the notions of "equality" while enslaving Black people and the genocide and displacing of Indigenous people - and still live on today through racism and oppression that persist in Black, brown and other marginalized communities.

    The violent attack on January 6 was a moment that calls for a reckoning with accountability. Without accountability, calls for unity and peace are hollow. When we do not address injustices and violence in all its forms at every level, we allow white supremacy to grow and democracy to weaken.

    As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly...Our lives end when we become silent to things that matter." The call to continue working toward justice, democracy and equality for all is greater than ever.

    We all have a responsibility to commit to building a community rooted in nonviolence and equality, to commit to ending white supremacy and violence in all its forms, including domestic violence. Together, we must continue to work to disrupt systems of oppression that disproportionately and unjustly impact people of color and communities that have historically been marginalized, which includes survivors of domestic violence and their families who face barriers to services, safety and justice. We invite you to join us in this mission.

    When hope is rooted in collective action, it becomes an act of resistance. Together, we must hold onto hope and work toward a world where all are free from violence, where we are all treated as equal and where justice always prevails. While many are doubling down on hatred, we must double down on love.


    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of full member agencies (Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center and Women’s Resource Center) provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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. You can also use the 24/7 confidential chat feature at www.ricadv.org.

Releases & Statements – 2020
  • Releases

  • Statements

  • 10/01/2020 - R.I. Coalition Against Domestic Violence calls on Rhode Islanders to 'know the signs' during community meeting and campaign reveal

    R.I. Coalition Against Domestic Violence calls on Rhode Islanders to 'know the signs' during community meeting and campaign reveal

    WARWICK, R.I., October 1, 2020 – To mark the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and its full member agencies (Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Domestic Violence Resource Center, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center and Women’s Resource Center) launched a new campaign, calling the community in to “know the signs” and share the collective responsibility of ending domestic abuse.

    The RICADV and its survivor taskforce, SOAR (Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships), hosted a virtual community meeting and campaign reveal Thursday, Oct. 1. The campaign highlights how “it’s on all of us to end domestic violence,” and the event included a Q&A session with survivors, premiere of a TV PSA and campaign artwork, resources and tools for bystanders and a calendar of events reveal.

    Tonya Harris, executive director, said, "Everyone’s involvement in ​ending domestic violence is even more important now. The COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation have magnified the immense needs of survivors. Between March and July 2020, we provided advocacy services to over 4,500 individuals, and more than 11,000 overnight shelter stays. That would have not been possible without the support of our community.”

    Our campaign calls Rhode Islanders in, and urges each of us to learn more about subtle and commonly overlooked forms of abuse. The campaign was created from nearly a year of preparation and collaboration between the RICADV’s network of full member agencies through the Public Awareness Working Group, PAWG, and by listening to the voices of our community and survivors. Talented art director Loretta Kennedy drew from the experiences of survivors to inspire the look, feel and message of the campaign.

    Haley, a survivor and member of SOAR, said, "I told people about the abuse, and they didn’t blame me. Instead, they believed me and validated me. It was helpful realizing I was not alone, and there were other people who had similar experiences. Because of this, I was able to stop blaming myself for the harm my abuser caused." 

    Rhode Islanders will see campaign ads throughout the state on billboards, buses, the Rhode Island Convention Center, Dunkin’ Donuts Center and Veterans Memorial Auditorium and among other Rhode Island businesses and community and health centers. A video interview series will be broadcast in Spanish on the Rhode Informa show, print ads will be seen in local media outlets and digital ads will also be seen across the web and social media.

    Join the RICADV in this effort to get information in the hands of every Rhode Islander – because when you know the signs, you can learn where to get support if you are experiencing abuse or how to provide support as a bystander to someone you know and love who is being abused. Learn what you can do to end domestic abuse, and get involved. It’s on all of us to end domestic violence.

    For more information about the RICADV, visit 
    www.ricadv.org, and to access the campaign, visit www.NoMoreRI.org


    How you can help: As relatives, friends, coworkers and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who might be, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100.

    Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources. Additional information can be found at
    www.ricadv.org.


    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

  • 7/22/2020 - Press release regarding the state of domestic abuse and emergency needs in R.I. halfway through 2020

    Halfway through 2020, R.I. Coalition Against Domestic Violence reflects on state of domestic abuse and emergency needs in Rhode Island

    By Tonya King Harris, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    WARWICK, R.I., July 22, 2020 – As we reflect halfway through 2020, we are deeply saddened domestic violence has claimed the lives of several of our Rhode Island community members. To date, we have lost five Rhode Islanders to domestic violence homicides this year, the most recent victim being Derek Desjardin, who was 30 years old when he was killed by his roommate in June.

    Each of these victims deserved so much more. We honor their lives, and recognize victims and survivors are not statistics. Each of these fellow Rhode Islanders were loved ones and members of our community, and they are not defined by abuse. The lives of their loved ones are forever changed, and our communities have been impacted by this devastating loss of life – lives stolen by domestic abuse. Domestic violence affects us all, and sends harmful ripple effects throughout our state.

    We have collectively been facing many challenges since 2020 began, and the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified so many community needs that directly affect victims of domestic violence and their families in Rhode Island. As the state is gradually reopening in phases, the demand for services has remained.

    In June of this year, we saw a 42 percent increase in calls to helplines and hotlines compared to June 2019. Social isolation and other barriers related to the pandemic have magnified domestic violence, and these continued spikes in calls have been consistent since “stay at home” precautions began. We are concerned these numbers keep climbing, and the latest numbers show survivors and their children still have pressing needs despite the state reopening. We know the long-term effects of the pandemic – especially the economic impact – will be staggering, and victims and survivors of domestic violence will be particularly affected.

    The epidemic of domestic abuse preceded COVID-19, and has only become more heightened during these unprecedented times. For those experiencing abuse, the public health pandemic emergency has layered one crisis on top of another. The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and its network of member agencies have continued to hear the overwhelming need for safe places for survivors to go, financial support and resources for survivors and their children and programs and strategies to prevent domestic abuse before it starts.

    It is imperative programs serving as a lifeline for many survivors are strengthened. We urge the Rhode Island General Assembly to increase the Rhode Island Works cash assistance benefit. The current benefit amount is just $6 a day per person, and has not been increased in three decades. Rhode Island is the only New England state that has not raised the benefit amount in nearly 30 years, and an increase is long overdue to lift families out of deep poverty - many of whom are survivors and their children attempting to rebuild their lives after escaping an abusive situation.

    We are relieved and thankful Governor Gina Raimondo collaborated with us to expand emergency shelter capacity. The temporary increase in shelter beds provided lifesaving support for many survivors and their children seeking safety. A major barrier for survivors continues to be the lack of safe, affordable housing options. While our member agencies provide emergency shelter and transitional housing, there is still an unmet need for long-term housing options that provide a healthy, safe place to live survivors can afford. This is why it is crucial the General Assembly passes an affordable housing bond and joins our neighboring states in investing in a dedicated housing funding stream in the 2021 fiscal year budget, which would boost jobs and infrastructure development and increase the availability of affordable homes in Rhode Island.

    We are also advocating for an increase in funding for the Deborah DeBare Domestic Violence Prevention Fund (DVPF), which supports strategies led by and within communities most impacted by domestic and dating violence. By increasing the number of schools, community groups and community-based agencies engaged in the public health approach to domestic abuse prevention, we can address root causes of domestic violence and prevent it from happening in the first place. With more resources for youth leadership, policy and systems change and public awareness strategies, we can end abuse for future generations.

    When we get the call from survivors in Rhode Island with their life-saving needs, we must answer. For more information about these initiatives and to get involved, visit www.ricadv.org.


    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

  • 5/28/2020 - Press release regarding continued spike in demand for services

    R.I. Coalition Against Domestic Violence sees continued spike in demand for services

    By Tonya King Harris, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    WARWICK, R.I., May 28, 2020 – The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and its member agencies have seen a concerning spike in demand for services for victims of domestic abuse the past month, with emergency shelter and housing requests increasing. In some cases, this data represents nearly a nine-fold increase.

    The RICADV saw a 40 percent increase in helpline/hotline calls this April, compared to April 2019. Housing remains the highest priority for survivors of violence in crisis. Without a safe place to go, survivors cannot begin to heal from the trauma they’ve endured.

    Of these calls in April 2020, 56 percent led to housing referrals - representing almost a nine-fold increase compared to April 2019. A total of 599 helpline/hotline callers requested emergency shelter. Finding a safe place to go has been a barrier for many victims and their children in their journey to safety, long before COVID-19, and these obstacles have been magnified by the current pandemic.

    According to the 2019 National Network to End Domestic Violence National Census of Domestic Violence Services, which reports on services each domestic violence shelter provided within a 24-hour period, Rhode Island had 111 unmet requests for services in one day. Seventy percent of unmet requests for services - 78 of 111 - were for housing and emergency shelter.

    The RICADV and its member agencies have collaborated with Governor Gina Raimondo to increase emergency shelter capacity, providing expanded temporary relief for victims of domestic violence. We are grateful to the governor and her team for working with us to meet survivors’ urgent needs during these unprecedented times.

    This expanded shelter service is a temporary solution for a long-term issue. We must invest in lifesaving programs for survivors of domestic violence and their families that provide safety and shelter to victims in their darkest hour. Along with emergency shelter needs, we must invest in long-term solutions that support survivors and their children to find and maintain a healthy and safe home, including rental subsidies, emergency rent and mortgage assistance. The RICADV has also continuously advocated to expand shelter capacity, and for more safe, healthy and affordable housing in Rhode Island, including a dedicated annual housing funding stream in the state budget.

    The court advocacy program, which supports survivors with domestic violence matters - including restraining orders - has seen a concerning 46 percent decrease in services provided in April 2020, compared to April 2019. Restraining orders are an important tool for survivors, and it is imperative these remain an accessible and safe option for victims. 

    We want survivors of domestic violence and their families to know member agencies continue to provide court advocacy services. While not all courthouses are open, advocates at each member agency are working tirelessly to meet survivors’ needs, and domestic violence matters are being heard at the Noel Judicial Complex (Kent County) and Garrahy Judicial Complex (Providence). These courthouses are open for restraining orders, temporary restraining orders, criminal arraignments and emergency child custody interventions, and advocates can support survivors as they navigate the court process.


    How you can help: As relatives, friends, coworkers and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who might be, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100.

    Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources. Additional information can be found at
    www.ricadv.org.

    About the BVAC: The Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center has been providing services to victims of domestic violence in the Blackstone Valley area for over three decades. It is their voices, their struggles and their experiences, which guide our work. BVAC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence and to provide education and awareness on the issue of domestic violence. Visit bvadvocacycenter.org for more information.

    About the RICADV:
     The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

  • 4/15/2020 - Press release regarding increase in calls during pandemic

    R.I. Coalition Against Domestic Violence sees increase in calls during pandemic

    By Tonya Harris, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    WARWICK, R.I., April 15, 2020 – The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence has seen a 29 percent increase in calls to helplines during March 2020, compared to this time last year - a concerning and expected increase. 

    We are distressed nearly one-third more calls came through during this timeframe. The calls are an indication victims are living in fear and many are trying to reach out for help. The numbers, however, don’t tell the whole story. We know there are many survivors who are facing barriers when attempting to reach out for support, particularly if victims are living at home with their abusers. We are gravely concerned about all Rhode Islanders facing abuse, and it’s more important than ever for us to step up as a community and respond to their call for help. 

    We want survivors to know we are here. We are open. COVID-19 has complicated the already difficult circumstances many survivors experience when in an abusive relationship, and shortly after leaving the relationship.

    Z
    aida Hernandez, member of the Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR) task force, said when living in a domestic violence situation, “normalcy” is found outside the home.

    She said during this pandemic, “Now all of a sudden the only normalcy you may have had – to go to work, to go to school – is taken away from you. When do you have the opportunity to call when you’re locked up in the house with someone abusive? How do you reach out, how do you get out there (a safe place)? I never had to live through something like this (COVID-19), but I recall some snow days, or when (her abuser) was sick, and the torture I would go through when I was stuck in the house with him…This is ten times worse.

    Hernandez shared advice for fellow survivors, and said, “Don’t be ashamed for how you’re feeling, and if you’re experiencing PTSD…This is a real feeling, this is as real as it gets, and we need to address it. If you have a chance, reach out for help.”

    The RICADV reminds the R.I. community support is available – and in many ways, resources have expanded. The RICADV and its network of agencies are open and have transitioned some services to virtual platforms via phone or Internet. Shelters are open, and advocates are assisting anyone needing information or support. Direct services including individual advocacy, safety planning and counseling are being offered remotely.

    The Noel Judicial Complex (Kent County) and Garrahy Judicial Complex (Providence) are open for all domestic violence matters, including restraining orders, temporary restraining orders, criminal arraignments and emergency child custody interventions. Court advocates from all of our member agencies throughout the state are able to meet with victims to address protection and safety needs and help them navigate through the court process.

    The 24/7 confidential statewide Helpline, which can be reached at 1-800-494-8100, continues to operate, providing assistance and referrals. Domestic violence advocates also offer confidential support through a 24/7 confidential live chat helpline, accessible by visiting
    www.ricadv.org

    As always, we urge victims in immediate danger to call 911. If you are unable to safely call 911, including an address in a text to 911 will alert first responders to your location. Police departments will continue responding to domestic violence calls during this public health crisis.

    If you or anyone you know is thinking about reaching out for support, please do not let COVID-19 be one of the barriers in doing so. Our services are available to anyone who needs support.


    How you can help: As relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who might be, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100.

    Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources. Additional information can be found at
    www.ricadv.org.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

  • 4/7/2020 - Press release regarding services available for victims of domestic violence during COVID-19 pandemic

    Services available for victims of domestic violence during COVID-19 pandemic

    By Tonya King Harris, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    WARWICK, R.I., April 7, 2020 – While we adapt to the circumstances around the COVID-19 pandemic to protect ourselves and the Rhode Island community from this virus, we know home is not a safe place for everyone – especially for victims of domestic violence and their children.

    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and our member agencies remind all Rhode Islanders if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, support is available. Following Rhode Island Department of Health guidelines, our member agencies have transitioned most services to virtual platforms via phone or Internet. Advocates continue to assist anyone needing information or support, and we have expanded some services to best support victims during this time. Shelters are open, and direct services including individual advocacy, safety planning and counseling are being offered remotely.

    We recently received news about the closure of the Noel Judicial Complex in Kent County, which had been temporarily hearing cases from Washington and Newport counties. Survivors needing a restraining order, help understanding a domestic abuse criminal matter, or other emergency judicial relief are still able to connect with domestic violence court advocates from those courthouses by phone, however, survivors will need to travel to the Providence Garrahy Judicial Complex courthouse to file for a restraining order, and advocates there can assist them. While we know this is inconvenient for some and a barrier for others, we also know these temporary closures are in place to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 exposure.

    The Garrahy Judicial Complex in Providence is open for domestic violence restraining orders in Family Court and District Court, temporary restraining orders, emergency child custody matters and criminal domestic violence arraignments. The restraining order office located within the Garrahy Judicial Complex can be reached at 401-458-3372. Court advocates are available at the Garrahy courthouse to meet with victims and help them navigate the court process.

    The 24/7 confidential statewide helpline, which can be reached at 1-800-494-8100, continues to operate, providing assistance and referrals. Domestic violence advocates also offer confidential support through a 24/7 live chat helpline, accessible by visiting www.ricadv.org.

    For information about changes to member agency services, click here.

    Court advocates are available Monday through Friday at the following phone numbers:

    Garrahy Judicial Complex (Providence)
    Advocates can be reached at the restraining order office located on the second floor of the courthouse or by phone at 401-458-3372.

    Noel Judicial Complex (Kent County) – Office is closed until further notice
    Advocates can be reached at 401-822-6680 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and are checking voicemails remotely. 

    McGrath Judicial Complex (Wakefield) – Office is closed until further notice
    Advocates can be reached at 401-782-4174 or 401-782-3995 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and are checking voicemails remotely. 

    Murray Judicial Complex (Newport) – Office is closed until further notice
    Advocates can be reached at 401-474-1628 or 401-595-1680. Callers can also contact the main office at 401-846-5263 or by emailing info@wrcnbc.org.

    As always, we urge victims in immediate danger to call 911. If you are unable to safely call 911, including an address in a text to 911 will alert first responders to your location. Police departments will continue responding to domestic violence calls during this public health crisis.

    If you or anyone you know is thinking about reaching out for support, please do not let COVID-19 be one of the barriers in doing so. Our services are available to anyone who needs support.


    How you can help: As relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who might be, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100.

    Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources. Additional information can be found at www.ricadv.org.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

  • 2/28/2020 - Letter to the Editor: Reflecting on Black History Month

    Reflecting on Black History Month

    By Tonya King Harris, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    Every Black History Month, for me, is a time of deep reflection – a time of celebrating the accomplishments of black leaders throughout our history. Though our legacy is extensive and rich, there are too many of us who have to reckon with being, “the first black person to...”

    Reminiscing about my own life, I hold many “firsts.” I was among the first black women appointed as a police officer, and later, the first woman of color appointed to the rank of sergeant in Rhode Island. Now, I am the first black woman to lead the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence in its 40-year history.

    I accomplished those “firsts” because of those who came before me. I’ve dedicated my life’s work to ensure my children, their children, and all those to come after us no longer have to say they’re, “the first black person to…”. Instead, they will be represented as one of many black leaders in our organizations, companies, boards, and communities.

    As we close Black History Month 2020, I honor those who, with their sacrifices, paved the road and led by example. I am committed to following in their footsteps so future generations of black children will have more opportunities to thrive and live their lives free from oppression.

    I invite all my black sisters and brothers to take a moment to celebrate our own successes as the beautiful black people we are - because every time we show up, every time we overcome, every time we persist - we are making history.

  • 12/30/2020 - Statement regarding the gun-involved domestic violence homicide of Paul Zois

    Statement regarding the gun-involved domestic violence homicide of Paul Zois

    By Tonya King Harris, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence 

    CRANSTON R.I., Dec. 30, 2020 – We are heartbroken by the devastating loss of Paul Zois, who was shot and killed by Charles Gangi in a domestic violence homicide in Cranston. Under Rhode Island law, crimes and incidents between adults residing together are considered domestic violence. We send our deepest condolences to Zois’ loved ones, and the entire Cranston community forever impacted by this heinous act of violence.

    Domestic violence homicides do not happen randomly, and domestic abuse occurs in every city and town in Rhode Island. Lethality risk factors in a domestic violence situation include the presence of a firearm, which makes the likelihood of a domestic homicide much greater. As noted in the RICADV’s report, “Domestic Violence Homicides in Rhode Island 2006-2015,” firearms are the most commonly used weapons in these incidents, and claim the highest number of victims in our state. We must do all we can to ensure guns do not reach the hands of abusive individuals in the first place, and stay out of their possession.


    Domestic abuse takes many forms, and is not limited to violence between intimate partners. 
    There is never any excuse for domestic abuse, and no one has the right to use violence as a form of power and control over another person. Zois’ loved ones are now grappling with this massive loss of life, a life cut short by violence. We are distraught to learn Zois’ mother and aunt were home at the time of the murder, and are deeply concerned about the traumas that ripple through the lives of those present inside the home when this violence occurs. Domestic abuse homicides impact entire families and communities, not just the individuals involved in the incident. 


    Our hearts are with all who knew and loved Zois, and the Cranston community. We will continue our work to address the trauma caused by domestic violence for all communities in Rhode Island, and remain committed to prevention efforts to stop abuse before it starts in the first place. We all have a role in ending domestic violence. 

    If you witness domestic abuse, call 911. You can also text 911 if safer to do so, and by providing your address, first responders will know where to respond. If you or someone you know may be in an abusive relationship, advocates are available 24/7, and can be reached through the confidential statewide Helpline by calling 1-800-494-8100, or using the online chat at www.ricadv.org.


    How you can help: As relatives, friends, coworkers and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone might be, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100. You can also use the 24/7 confidential chat feature at www.ricadv.org.

    Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect that someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources. Additional information can be found at www.ricadv.org.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of full member agencies (Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center and Women’s Resource Center) provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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. You can also use the 24/7 confidential chat feature at www.ricadv.org.

  • 8/24/2020 - Statement regarding the domestic violence homicide of Erika Belcourt

    Statement regarding the domestic violence homicide of Erika Belcourt

    By Tonya King Harris, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    WARWICK, R.I., August 24, 2020 – With devastation and heavy hearts, we mourn the loss of Erika Belcourt, who was killed by her boyfriend in Woonsocket over the weekend. Belcourt leaves behind children and loved ones, and the Woonsocket community is grappling with another life stolen by domestic violence this year. 

    This murder is the sixth domestic violence homicide of the year in Rhode Island, and the third domestic violence homicide in Woonsocket within a two-month time periodDomestic violence is about power and control, with homicide being the ultimate – and final – act of violence in a pattern of escalating controlling behaviors. There is never any excuse for domestic violence, and Belcourt deserved so much more than to have her life cut short by this heinous actBelcourt was a loved one, friend, mother and community member. Her loved ones are now forever impacted by this tremendous loss of life. 

    Sadly, the perpetrator who took Belcourt’s life has a 20-year history of domestic violence, including violation of no contact orders and strangulation – both of which are lethality risk factors. Simply put, lethality risk factors indicate when a victim of domestic violence is at risk of being killed based on their abuser’s behavior. One of the RICADV’s priorities is to establish a high-risk domestic violence court in Rhode Island that aims to stop abuse from escalating to prevent further violence, promote victim safety and hold offenders accountable by identifying red flags in an abusive situation before the offender’s tactics escalate to homicide. 

    Establishing a domestic violence court in our state will continue to be a priority of the RICADV’s, as will strategies to prevent domestic violence before it begins by addressing some of the root causes of abuse. We will continue to collaborate with all of our community partners to make Rhode Island a safer place for everyone, including victims and survivors of domestic violence and their families. 

    The 24/7 confidential statewide Helpline, which can be reached at 1-800-494-8100, continues to operate, providing assistance and referrals. Domestic violence advocates also offer confidential support through a 24/7 live chat helpline, accessible by visiting www.ricadv.org.


    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

  • 6/18/2020 - Statement regarding the domestic violence homicide of Tanya Gagnon

    Statement regarding the domestic violence homicide of Tanya Gagnon

    By Tonya King Harris, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    WARWICK, R.I., June 18, 2020 – Our hearts ache for the friends and family of Tanya Gagnon during this devastating time. Charles Johnson, 43, is suspected of murdering Tanya, 44, at their home in Woonsocket before Johnson turned the gun on himself. This is the fourth domestic violence homicide this year.

    We are heartbroken Tanya’s life was stolen from her. Tanya was someone’s family member, co-worker and friend, and was a member of the Woonsocket community. She will be missed by those who knew her and loved her, and our thoughts are with them all as they mourn her death.

    While a press release from the Woonsocket Police Department stated there was no reported history of abuse or domestic-related calls between Gagnon and Johnson, Johnson had a history of domestic abuse and other crimes, a lethality risk factor. The presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation is another lethality risk factor, increasing the likelihood of homicide by five times. We are also distressed a cat was found dead at the apartment by an apparent gunshot, according to the police department’s press release.

    We know domestic violence murders are not isolated incidents. These murders happen after a pattern of escalating and controlling behaviors. Abusers use power and control to instill fear in victims, which can include harming or threatening to harm pets. Survey information shows up to 70 percent of domestic violence victims report having a pet, and when an abuser is violent in the home, pets may also become victims of abuse, as a way for the abuser to further control the victim.

    In March 2020, at the start of COVID-19 pandemic “stay at home” precautions, Gagnon and Johnson had moved into an apartment together. As “stay at home” measures went into effect in Rhode Island, we saw expected and concerning increases in calls to the statewide Helpline and member agencies’ hotlines, as well as an increased demand for services for survivors and their families. Home is not a safe place for everyone, especially for those living with an abuser. We hoped our Rhode Island community would not have a domestic violence homicide during the pandemic, as we have seen in other states across the country.

    Particularly now, we must remain vigilant as active bystanders, looking out for our loved ones. As a friend, family member, coworker, classmate, or neighbor, you may be the first to learn about or witness abuse. It’s important to look for signs of controlling behaviors. If you think you may know someone who is in a domestic violence relationship, reach out to the victim and listen without judgment. Be ready to provide resources and support, and understand each survivor knows their own needs and situation best.


    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

    The 24/7 confidential statewide Helpline, which can be reached at 1-800-494-8100, continues to operate, providing assistance and referrals. Domestic violence advocates also offer confidential support through a 24/7 live chat helpline, accessible by visiting www.ricadv.org. 

    As always, we urge victims in immediate danger to call 911. If you are unable to safely call 911, including an address in a text to 911 will alert first responders to your location. Police departments will continue responding to domestic violence calls during this public health crisis.

  • 5/29/2020 - Statement regarding RICADV's support of safe release of some incarcerated people at Wyatt Detention Facility

    R.I. Coalition Against Domestic Violence supports safe release of some incarcerated people at Wyatt Detention Facility

    By Tonya Harris, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    WARWICK, R.I., May 29, 2020 – Given the current concerning outbreak of the COVID-19 virus at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence supports the release of non-violent, asylum-seeking and immigrant detainees held at the federally-contracted immigration facility, a privately operated prison run by a corporation. In just one week, the number of positive COVID-19 tests increased from 15 to 38 among detainees, suggesting the virus is likely to spread even further.

    According to recent reporting, Wyatt is now a "hot spot" for the virus, with 46 inmate detainees and 12 facility staff members testing positive for coronavirus. Central Falls currently has the highest COVID-19 rate in Rhode Island.

    We support the release of certain groups of incarcerated people to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while protecting survivors of domestic and sexual violence, including those who are in prison. We join our sister domestic violence coalitions from states in New England and across the country in solidarity to advocate for public health-informed releases and thorough criminal history screenings to protect the health and safety of our community.

    We acknowledge how the vast majority of incarcerated women and transgender people have been victims of severe domestic violence, sexual violence and trafficking, often endured over a lifetime. Many incarcerated men also have painful histories of abuse and trauma. Our support for the release of these detainees during the pandemic is rooted in our work against violence and oppression. It reflects our anti-oppression values, as the release of non-violent inmates during this crisis is a matter of basic human rights, public health and safety. A world free from violence is a world of compassionate justice where undocumented people are not condemned to suffer from sickness or death as part of their detention. As victim advocates, we know detention facilities are not separate from society - real people work there, live there and visit there. All of our communities, especially those harmed by economic hardship and institutionalized racism, deserve accountability, healing and restoration. Our safety and health are tied to theirs.

    The RICADV supports the release of some incarcerated people, under conditions, and with thorough screening tools and procedures:

    • Asylum seekers and individuals incarcerated for immigration violations
    • Pregnant people, those who have given birth in the past year and those raising children in prison nurseries
    • Non-violent offenders with no domestic violence or sexual assault criminal histories who are more susceptible to the virus because of their age or health
    • Women and transgender survivors of violence whose rehabilitation indicates a safe release

    We urge the Wyatt facility and federal immigration authorities to take the following steps to create conditions to support safe release and re-entry:

    • Screening of all individuals to be released to identify if domestic violence or sexual assault was a part of any underlying criminal history. This process cannot be shortened in the interest of time. The best screening strategy is confidentially asking the victim if and how the offender can be safely released.
    • Thorough victim notification in the case of release of individuals who committed domestic violence or sex crimes at any time in the past. Survivors need and deserve this information for safety planning and making life decisions for themselves and their children.
    • A safe release plan and places for individuals to go, with an overall commitment to investing in re-entry, now and beyond the COVID-19 crisis. 
    • Robust survivor advocacy and safety planning - both for survivors in the community worried about the release of individuals who committed domestic or sex crimes against them, and incarcerated survivors being released into unsafe circumstances without adequate resources. 

    Our work and mission at the intersection of violence prevention and racial equity during this pandemic compels us to address the needs of all people, including incarcerated undocumented detainees, as a matter of human rights, community health and justice. Our advocacy on behalf of domestic violence survivors has taught us we can only collectively be as safe or well as our most vulnerable community members. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed deep social inequities that regularly threaten the lives and health of people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, LGBTQI+ individuals and homeless families. The time is now to expand the range of intervention and prevention options available for all people to find safety and justice, and to prevent future violence.


    How you can help: As relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who might be, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100.

    Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources. Additional information can be found at
    www.ricadv.org.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

  • 5/8/2020 - Statement regarding the domestic violence murder of Kristine Ohler

    Statement regarding the domestic violence murder of Kristine Ohler
    By Toni Marie Gomes, executive director, Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, and Tonya King Harris, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    PAWTUCKET, R.I., May 8, 2020 – We are heartbroken by the death of Kristine Ohler, a 30-year-old woman whose life was stolen from her when she was killed by Victor Colebut.

    Colebut, who has a long criminal history of domestic violence, was arraigned and charged with Ohler’s murder Thursday, May 7, after strangling and killing her on February 17 in Pawtucket. Domestic violence homicides do not happen randomly - these murders occur after a pattern of escalating controlling behaviors, where the abuser uses power and control to instill fear in the victim - homicide being the ultimate form of control. A study of lethality risks shows there are several factors indicating higher homicide risk for victims of domestic violence. Those factors include threats of homicide, strangulation and previous assaults. 

    We are devastated Ohler, a Rhode Islander and mother, was killed at the hands of an abuser. As we mourn this tremendous loss of life, we send our deepest condolences to her family, and are committed to reducing the risk of another life being stolen by domestic abuse. As a community of bystanders, we must educate ourselves about ways to provide resources and support to victims and their families. 

    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the network of member agencies, including Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, are open and have transitioned some services to virtual platforms via phone or Internet. Shelters are open, and advocates are assisting anyone in need of information or support. Direct services including individual advocacy, safety planning and counseling are being offered remotely. 

    The Noel Judicial Complex (Kent County) and Garrahy Judicial Complex (Providence) are open for all domestic violence matters, including restraining orders, temporary restraining orders, criminal arraignments and emergency child custody interventions. Court advocates from all of our member agencies throughout the state are able to meet with victims to address protection and safety needs and help them navigate the court process.

    The 24/7 confidential statewide Helpline, which can be reached at 1-800-494-8100, continues to operate, providing assistance and referrals. Domestic violence advocates also offer support through a 24/7 confidential live chat helpline, accessible by visiting www.ricadv.org.

    Director of Community Services at BVAC, Kim Demers, said, “Our thoughts go out to Kristine Ohler’s family.”

    She said, “We will continue our mission to provide comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence, while remembering the life of Ms. Ohler. We are committed to help those who are in need." 


    How you can help: As relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who might be, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100.

    Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources. Additional information can be found at www.ricadv.org.

    About the BVAC: The Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center has been providing services to victims of domestic violence in the Blackstone Valley area for over three decades. It is their voices, their struggles and their experiences, which guide our work. BVAC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence and to provide education and awareness on the issue of domestic violence. Visit bvadvocacycenter.org for more information.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

  • 3/13/2020 - Letter regarding RICADV response to COVID-19

    Dear friends and colleagues,

    We’ve all been experiencing a bombardment of information regarding COVID-19 here in Rhode Island, in our country and across the globe. Here at the RICADV, we know domestic and sexual violence takes no break. This is a time where victims may be more at risk, as abusers may use the situation as a power and control tool against their victims, making them more vulnerable. Families will be even more stressed with lost work, closed schools and the realities of this illness.

    We have carefully considered the advisories coming out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Rhode Island Department of Health, and for that reason, the RICADV is dialing back our physical presence in many spaces. As always, if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the 24/7 statewide helpline at 1-800-494-8100. In case of emergency, call 911.

    Here’s what will continue from our end:

    -The RICADV staff will be working each day, but remotely until further notice. We will be available during the typical work hours for phone calls, virtual meetings and the like. Our office phones are set to call forwarding, so you can reach us by calling our office at 401-467-9940.

    -We will continue to work closely with our member agencies and stay in close contact with them as the situation unfolds.

    -We will continue our presence at the legislature once the session resumes.

    Here’s what may look different:

    -Meetings may be cancelled, rescheduled to a later date, or move from in-person to virtual. We will let you know as the meetings come up.

    -Trainings and conferences are cancelled until the end of April.

    -Although it seems like many of our partners are also moving meetings to virtual platforms, for those who are not, we will evaluate the risk for exposure and will determine if we should attend in person or ask to participate using technology.

    -Should any changes to these plans occur, we will be updating our social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) with the most recent developments.

    Here at the RICADV, we are taking COVID-19 seriously and recognizing we are members of a community filled with people who may be at a significantly higher risk than other Rhode Islanders. We believe we can meet the needs of our constituents while simultaneously minimizing the risk to our staff and to all we come in contact with. By centering the most vulnerable among us, we feel we are taking an active role in preventing the spread of this disease.

    We also recognize the incredible privilege that comes with this action, and we are working actively to use our voice to support Rhode Islanders who have no paid time off, who are looking at the prospect of lost wages, who are vulnerable and have few resources. We welcome anyone who wants to be in community with us.

    Sincerely,

    Tonya King Harris
    Executive Director

  • 1/27/2020 - Statement regarding domestic violence homicide of Vincent A. Sebastian

    Statement regarding domestic violence homicide of Vincent A. Sebastian

    By Tonya King Harris, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Mary Roda, executive director, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County


    WESTERLY, R.I., Jan. 27, 2020 –
    Our hearts go out to the family and friends of 28-year-old Vincent A. Sebastian, who was killed in a domestic violence homicide on Saturday, Jan. 25, in Westerly. Vincent was killed by his cousin, tragically making this the second domestic violence murder in the first month of the year.


    Rhode Island law defines certain crimes committed against adults related by blood or marriage as domestic violence crimes, including assault and homicide. This tragedy calls on us to recognize violence happens not only between spouses and dating partners, it also happens between cousins, siblings, parents and their adult children, step-relatives, in-laws and cohabitants.

    We are especially distraught to learn children were present in the Westerly home at the time of this deadly shooting that stole Vincent’s life. Children witnessing domestic violence represents a local and national public health crisis.

    There are nearly 2,000 incidents with children present each year during domestic abuse arrests in Rhode Island. Witnessing domestic violence as a child can lead to serious long-term health and developmental consequences, including depression, drug use, poor academic achievement and post-traumatic stress disorder. Our state must continue to strengthen the response to domestic abuse, ensuring no more children experience this trauma, or bear witness to violence.

    As noted in the RICADV’s report, “Domestic Violence Homicides in Rhode Island 2006-2015,” the use of firearms is a major factor in domestic violence murders. Firearms are the most commonly used weapons in these incidents and claim the highest number of victims in R.I. The presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation drastically increases the risk of homicide.

    We must all do more to prevent these deadly tragedies and end domestic violence and gun violence. No one deserves to have their life stolen from them.


    How you can help: As relatives, friends, coworkers and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone might be, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100.

    Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect that someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources. Additional information can be found at ricadv.org.

    About the RICADV:The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

    About the DVRCSC: The Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County (DVRCSC) is a nonprofit agency that works toward a future free of violence, and to build a community in which each individual shares the responsibility to create a culture of safety and personal dignity. We work collaboratively to offer safety, support, advocacy, education and a network of services to the residents of Washington County. The DVRCSC is dedicated to both preventing and responding to domestic violence by working to change the social conditions, beliefs and social actions that perpetuate abuse. For more information visit /www.dvrcsc.org.

  • 1/7/2020 - Statement regarding domestic violence homicide of Cheryl Smith

    Statement regarding domestic violence homicide of Cheryl Smith

    By Tonya King Harris, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence,
    and Toni Marie Gomes, executive director, Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center


    PAWTUCKET, R.I., Jan. 7, 2020 –
    On the first day of the new year, Cheryl Smith’s life was stolen from her, marking the first Rhode Island domestic violence homicide of 2020. Smith, a mother and local YMCA teacher’s assistant, was shot and killed at her home on New Year’s Day - a tragedy that affects her loved ones, her fellow educators, the children she taught and the community at large. Because of this tragedy, a family is left without a loved one. A woman’s life was cut short. Whenever there is a murder, the entire community suffers.

    Reports show Smith was killed by Jack Doherty and Shaylyn Moran. Moran had previously dated Smith’s son, Leonard Troufield. While Rhode Island law only recognizes domestic violence in crimes that occur between those directly involved in an abusive relationship, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence considers any domestic abuse-related murder a domestic violence homicide.

    Domestic abuse does not affect victims alone. Bystanders, including family members, new dating partners, or pets are often harmed in domestic violence incidents.

    We know the risk of a domestic violence homicide is five times greater when a firearm is present, and in this case, a 3D-printed gun was the lethal weapon used. We support the efforts of Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha, the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action and the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence to pass legislation banning these “ghost guns,” high capacity magazines and assault weapons.

    We recognize domestic violence affects us all, and limiting access to dangerous firearms will save lives.


    How you can help: As relatives, friends, coworkers and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone might be, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100.

    Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect that someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources. Additional information can be found atricadv.org.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

    About the BVAC: The Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center has been providing services to victims of domestic violence in the Blackstone Valley area for over three decades. It is their voices, their struggles and their experiences, which guide our work. BVAC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence and to provide education and awareness on the issue of domestic violence. Visit bvadvocacycenter.org for more information.

Releases & Statements – 2019
  • Releases

  • Statements

  • 12/13/19 - RICADV, survivors urge reauthorization of VAWA

    R.I. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, survivors urge reauthorization of VAWA
    RICADV joins survivors and R.I. congressional delegation to support ‘lifesaving bill’


    WARWICK, R.I., Dec. 13, 2019 –
    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence joined survivors and the R.I. congressional delegation Friday, Dec. 13, at a press conference to urge the reauthorization the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a lifesaving bill.


    The VAWA, which provides communities resources to help victims of domestic and sexual violence, has stalled in the U.S. Senate – which RICADV and state officials said has dangerous consequences.

    Tonya Harris, executive director of the RICADV, said, “We know first-hand how critical VAWA is to survivors and their families. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the initial passage of VAWA, which has since transformed how our country responds to domestic and sexual abuse, teen dating violence and stalking for the better – protecting and empowering victims and survivors.”

    At the press conference hosted at the Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center in Warwick, Harris said, “The legislation to reauthorize VAWA was created by listening to the needs of people who have experienced violence. I cannot stress this enough: This is a lifesaving bill.”

    She said through the RICADV’s network of member agencies, over 8,000 victims of domestic violence in Rhode Island were served in 2018 alone. VAWA expired late December 2018, and since VAWA was last reauthorized in 2013, Harris said, that same network of member agencies has served more than 53,000 victims of abuse through direct services – that figure does not include other important work, like trainings for first responders and advocates, or calls to the statewide hotline. Since 2013, Harris said, over 86,000 calls for help were answered.

    Harris said the reauthorization of VAWA means strengthening protections for all survivors and their families, including members of the LGBTQ community, tribal communities and immigrants, reducing domestic violence homicides, keeping shelter doors open and preventing domestic and sexual violence before it starts, through prevention and education programs.

    She said VAWA has allowed for those experiencing abuse to access legal services, housing protections and economic security measures. She said the reauthorization of VAWA will keep more guns out of the hands of abusers, and support children who have witnessed violence.

    During the press conference, survivor and member of Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR), Zaida*, detailed some of her experience as a victim of domestic violence.

    “Today, I’m sharing a piece of my story with you because when this abuse was happening, VAWA didn’t exist. In 1993, I didn’t even know the term ‘domestic violence,’ because of the lack of education and funding available for services. The passing of VAWA changed that,” she said.

    Zaida said, “What happens if VAWA is not reauthorized? Well, we would go backwards - back to the day my neighbor complained to the landlord, rather than reach out to help. Back to the day in the hospital, when no one asked me if I was being abused.”

    Zaida and Harris thanked Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Sen. Jack Reed, Rep. David Cicilline and Rep. Jim Langevin for their support of VAWA over the years, the RICADV’s member agencies, who work directly with survivors every day - thanks in large part to VAWA funding - and members of our survivor taskforce, SOAR (Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships), for their leadership and determination.


    Harris said, “Survivors can’t wait for safety. The time to pass the reauthorization of VAWA is now.”

    **Last name withheld for privacy purposes

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provide a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

  • 10/02/19 - RICADV celebrates 40 years, honors advocates

    R.I. Coalition Against Domestic Violence celebrates 40 years, honors advocates


    WARWICK, R.I., Oct. 2, 2019 –
    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence marked its 40th anniversary at a celebratory reception by honoring its past, celebrating the present and planning to shape the future.

    On Tuesday, Oct. 1 - the first day of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month - nearly 300 guests attended the RICADV’s celebration at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Providence-Warwick in Warwick, where more than 30 advocates, staff members, volunteers and survivors were recognized for their years of service in the movement to end domestic violence in Rhode Island. Individuals who have worked for ten years or more at the RICADV, the RICADV’s survivor taskforce, Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR), or the various member agencies throughout Rhode Island were given awards for their dedication.

    Several elected officials and dignitaries attended the ceremony, including Attorney General Peter Neronha, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, who each congratulated the organization for its decades of advocacy. Sen. Donna Nesselbush, former executive director of the RICADV, served as the emcee for the evening, where she lauded the positive changes in Rhode Island over the four decades since the coalition was formed.

    Janet Marcantonio, president of the RICADV’s board of directors, told attendees to take a look around them as she spoke on stage.

    She said, “You’ll see the faces of individuals who’ve served victims and survivors directly through services and compassionate support. You’ll see people who have advocated for policy and legislation changes that further protect survivors and their families. You’re among individuals who support our work – whether that be research, trainings, prevention efforts at the state and national level, our public awareness campaigns, or general day-to-day operations that keep us going. You’re beside survivors who lift up their voices and share stories about their experience to educate others, to bring change to our community. This work would not be possible without all of these people.”

    SOAR member Kathy McCormick recalled a time when domestic violence in Rhode Island was not considered a crime, and protections including restraining orders were not an option for victims.

    She said, “Things have changed because of the unwavering commitment of advocates and the unconditional support of community organizations … after joining SOAR, I had a platform to be part of the positive change, to pay it forward. Together with all of you, we can celebrate amazing accomplishments: The passage of the homicide prevention bill, the Deborah DeBare Domestic Violence Prevention Fund, each one of our domestic violence public awareness campaigns and so much more.”

    McCormick said, “As we look toward the future, it is imperative to continue to stay survivor-focused, continue to amplify our voices, and keep survivors at the core of the work we do. May these voices guide us and move us forward as we create a future without domestic violence for generations to come.”

    The RICADV’s Executive Director, Tonya King Harris, applauded the commitment of the “tireless, compassionate individuals” who received awards at the ceremony, and asked attendees to think about their roles in the movement to end abuse.

    She said, “We must call on ourselves to think: What is the legacy we want to leave behind? For me, it is a world where my granddaughter, and all children of the world, never witness domestic violence – a world where violence against women is not tolerated. At the coalition, we envision and work toward a world free of violence for all, and we are closer to that world every day.”

    Harris said, “Let us remember – the past is a reflection of who we were, the present is a reflection of who we are and the future represents all we can be and what we can accomplish together.”

    About the RICADV:
    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provide a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

  • 11/04/2019 - Firearm surrender report highlights crucial role of R.I. judicial system

    Firearm surrender report highlights crucial role of R.I. judicial system

    R.I. Coalition Against Domestic Violence supports analysis recommendations

    By Tonya King Harris, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence


    WARWICK, R.I., Nov. 4, 2019 – The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence supports the recommendations made in the recently released “Domestic Violence and Firearm Surrender in Rhode Island” report, an important analysis made by trained volunteers through a court monitoring program focusing on the Rhode Island Family Court.

    This significant report, compiled through a partnership between Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund (Everytown) and the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (Moms Demand Action), shows that since the “Protect Rhode Island Families Act” was passed in 2017, firearm surrender was required in only 34 percent of final orders of protection, or restraining orders.

    Under the “Protect Rhode Island Families Act,” all individuals subject to a final order of protection are prohibited by law from owning or possessing a firearm, and those who are ordered to surrender their firearms must do so within 24 hours of receiving notice of the order. All defendants must also file a proof of firearm surrender with the Family Court within 72 hours of service of the order.

    As noted in the report, the “Protect Rhode Island Families Act” is a life-saving law for survivors of domestic violence, as the law – when implemented – disarms domestic abusers. We know when a firearm is present in a domestic violence situation, the risk of homicide for women is five times greater than when a firearm is not present.

    To protect survivors from further harm, this law must be fully implemented. It is imperative that all domestic abusers are ordered to surrender their firearms, in all restraining orders, without exception.  Judges have a critical role in keeping victims safe. The report shows that when judges explained the law and surrender requirements to abusers, 7 out of 10 fully complied with the law. It is essential that judges use their power to uphold the original victim safety intent of the law. We will continue to work with the judicial system and community partners to implement measures that will increase the safety of victims and their families.

    We are grateful to Everytown and Moms Demand Action for their work compiling this necessary research, and for shining a light on this issue.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

  • 6/13/19 - New statewide public awareness campaign calls on men as allies to prevent domestic violence

    New Statewide Public Awareness Campaign Calls on Men as Allies to Prevent Domestic Violence
    The campaign features members of Ten Men, a statewide prevention initiative of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

    WARWICK, R.I., June 13, 2019 - This June, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) launched a new statewide public awareness campaign that calls on men in our communities to help prevent domestic violence.

    The campaign features members of Ten Men, a statewide prevention initiative of the RICADV funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s DELTA Impact grant. The campaign arrives just in time for Father’s Day, calling men in to think about the role they have to play in creating a peaceful world for future generations.

    “As men, we have an affirmative responsibility to address the issue of intimate partner violence head on,” Jim Berson said, a nonprofit consultant who has lived in Rhode Island for over 30 years and is a member of Ten Men. “If we are going to build a community that is healthy and equitable for all, we must break the intergenerational cycle of violence. We owe this to our daughters and sons, our sisters and brothers, our partners and our parents.”

    For the last 16 years, the RICADV has been conducting leading-edge work in domestic violence primary prevention with support from the CDC, and as one of ten DELTA Impact grantees in the country, is a national leader in the efforts to prevent domestic violence through men’s engagement. Based on the best available evidence for what works to prevent intimate partner violence (IPV),1 engaging men and boys as allies in prevention is a promising approach. According to the CDC, strategies to engage men and boys as allies not only encourage men and boys to support victims by intervening and speaking out, but also teach skills and promote positive social norms.

    “It is not enough to punish those who commit violence or to rely on the criminal justice system to end domestic violence. There must also be a shift in community attitudes to prevent the violence from happening in the first place,” Tonya Harris said, who serves as executive director of the RICADV. “This public awareness campaign is about raising the visibility of men in Rhode Island who are stepping up and speaking out, as they call on other men to play their part in preventing abuse."

    Currently in its sixth year, Ten Men mobilizes local men as allies and change agents in domestic violence prevention efforts. Ten Men members commit to engaging their friends, families, workplaces, and communities to address harmful norms that contribute to domestic abuse and other forms of violence. A recent community attitudes assessment conducted by the RICADV found some people continue to hold views that may contribute to risk factors that perpetuate abuse.

    In a section of the assessment focused on attitudes around equality in relationships and gender roles, 17% of participants felt neutral, agreed, or strongly agreed that “A woman should go along with a man’s decisions in a relationship. Regarding how likely they would be to intervene in certain situations, 29% of participants selected neutral, unlikely, or extremely unlikely about the statement, “Someone you know makes a sexist or hateful joke,” and 39% of participants had similar responses to the statement, “Someone posts something sexist or hateful on social media.”

    We need men of all ages and backgrounds to be active bystanders in the efforts to prevent abuse, which includes challenging learned attitudes and behaviors around masculinity, gender, and relationships that contribute to the problem. As Ten Men grows each year, and as members continue to reach more local men through their spheres of influence, the potential for social change grows. Collectively, all of these men can help shift the culture and stem the tide of violence.

    About Ten Men: Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s DELTA Impact grant, Ten Men is a statewide initiative of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) that engages men in the primary prevention of intimate partner violence. Ten Men members engage themselves and others in the prevention of domestic violence and strive to bring visibility to their efforts, educate themselves and others about the role men have in ending men's violence against women and girls, and mobilize the community to find community solutions for preventing violence. For more information, visit ricadv.org/tenmen.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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 visit ricadv.org.

  • 12/20/19 - Statement regarding the Westerly shooting

    Statement regarding the Westerly shooting

    By Tonya King Harris, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence 

    WESTERLY, R.I., Dec. 20, 2019 – The holiday season should be a time of joy, not a time of sorrow and devastation. Our hearts go out to the loved ones of Julie Lynn Cardinal, who was killed by Joseph Giachello on Dec. 19, as well as the Westerly community and all those affected by this tragedy – including two other victims in recovery.

    Rhode Island is small and connected, a tight-knit place we call home. This tragedy affects us all deeply. Recent reports state Giachello had a history of domestic violence before the shooting at the Babcock Village housing facility took place. We know a history of domestic violence is an important red flag, and most mass shootings are linked and rooted in domestic abuse or family violence.

    In Rhode Island, we now have laws that would prevent anyone with a restraining order filed against them to purchase or obtain firearms, per the “Protect Rhode Island Families Act” which passed in 2017, legislation the RICADV spearheaded with other R.I. gun safety organizations. It is critical the court system and law enforcement implement this legislation to its full extent, and that gun dealers never sell to individuals with a history of domestic violence.

    Disarming domestic abusers will save lives.

    How you can help:

    As relatives, friends, coworkers and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone might be, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100.

    Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect that someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources. Additional information can be found atricadv.org.

    About the RICADV:The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

  • 08/25/2019- Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Murder of Berta Hudson

    By Tonya King Harris, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    WARWICK, R.I., Aug. 25, 2019 – We write this statement with heavy hearts and devastation as we mourn the death of Berta Hudson, a 48-year-old woman of Providence, Rhode Island, who was killed by her estranged husband in broad daylight on the streets of Providence.

    Berta had been visiting a relative’s home on Saturday, Aug. 24, before she was fatally shot on the street by Oscar Hudson, who later shot and killed himself, police said. The community has lost a woman whose life was stolen from her - as she visited loved ones. We are saddened by the manner Berta was murdered, showing the abuser’s complete disregard for anyone else’s safety.

    We send our deepest condolences to Berta’s family members and friends, as well as the Providence community, now facing heartache and this tragic loss of life. Berta’s loved ones will forever be affected by this tragedy involving gun violence.

    There are several laws in place in Rhode Island that require criminal background checks before the purchase of a gun, and the surrendering of firearms when a person is convicted of a domestic violence crime. The presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation makes a homicide five times more likely. We must do all we can to ensure guns do not reach the hands of abusers in the first place, and stay out of their possession.

    Berta’s family, friends, and the community deserve to know: How did Oscar have access to a firearm, despite having a domestic violence history? This murder is the fourth domestic violence homicide in Rhode Island this year. Domestic violence robs our fellow Rhode Islanders of their peace and safety, and we must reject this abuse as a community.

    How you can help: As relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone might be, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100.

    Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect that someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources. Additional information can be found at ricadv.org.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

  • 06/24/19 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Murder of Brandi Berg

    Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Murder of Brandi Berg

    By Tonya King Harris, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    [Warwick, R.I., June 24, 2019] - We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of Brandi Berg, a 37-year-old woman and mother of Riverside, Rhode Island, who was fatally shot by Steven Fregeolle on Saturday at a busy shopping center parking lot near North Attleboro, Mass.

    We send our deepest condolences to Brandi's loved ones, the Riverside community, and all who have been impacted by this violent crime. Brandi was a kind soul, loving mother, and good friend. She was loved and will be remembered by all who knew her.

    Reports of her death allude to Brandi being stalked by Fregeolle before her murder. Stalking, a felony in Rhode Island law, is defined as harassing, or willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following another person with the intent to place that person in fear of injury. Studies show that almost 76% of victims of domestic violence homicides are stalked by their abusers in the year leading up to their murder. While we do not know all the details of this case, we know stalking is a risk factor that increases the likelihood of domestic violence homicide.

    Stalkers use fear to terrorize victims as a way to maintain power and control by using several tactics, including showing up at places the victim frequents and excessive unwanted contact through texting, calling, emailing, and social media. These behaviors cause the victim to have to constantly look over their shoulder and feel helpless and vulnerable.

    Domestic violence perpetrators and stalkers feel ownership over their victims, and have a false belief they have the right to control all aspects of the victim's life, homicide being the ultimate form of control. This false sense of entitlement fuels the prevalence of men's violence against women and girls in our society.

    Despite the seriousness of stalking, our society downplays and normalizes these behaviors. The number of formal stalking charges are low, and convictions even lower. It is imperative to strengthen laws to hold abusers accountable by enforcing our existing laws and available risk screenings. As a community, we must address and reject the culture of toxic and violent behavior.

    Ways to Help: As relatives, friends, coworkers, classmates, and neighbors, we must educate ourselves on the dynamics of abuse, how to identify warning signs, and how to intervene so that we can keep victims safe. We must all make a commitment to reach out to anyone whom we suspect or know is being abused. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help them create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources, such as the statewide Helpline (1-800-494-8100). Additional resources and information can be found at www.ricadv.org.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

    ###

  • 06/06/19 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Arrest of East Greenwich Police Officer Mark Edmonds

    Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Arrest of East Greenwich Police Officer Mark Edmonds

    By Toni Gomes, Executive Director, Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, and Tonya King Harris, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    [Providence, RI – Thursday, June 6, 2019] We are deeply concerned about the charges in the domestic violence case involving Officer Mark Edmonds. According to court records, the victim reported that she had been repeatedly abused by Edmonds during their relationship. The reported incidents occurred over a period of almost a year, including several incidents of strangulation and incidents where a firearm was present. Both are indications of an increased risk of domestic violence homicide, also known as lethality risk factors.

    Studies show that the probability of a domestic violence homicide is heightened when certain risk factors are present. These factors include a repeated pattern of committing violence, possession of a gun, strangulation, and more. It is also well documented that victims face higher risks when trying to leave an abusive relationship. Victims whose abusers are police officers are particularly vulnerable because the officer has a gun, is well trained in surveillance, knows the legal system, and likely knows about the resources available for victims, including the confidential locations of domestic violence shelters. We urge law enforcement and the criminal justice system to ensure strong protections that prioritize the safety of victims.

    We are relieved that the Pawtucket Police Department acted promptly in this case. Police departments in Rhode Island must take domestic violence allegations seriously, hold officers accountable, and act with urgency to keep victims safe.

    It takes extreme courage to report a domestic violence incident, particularly when the abuser is a police officer. Investigating domestic violence cases that involve alleged abusers in positions of legal authority sends the message that there is never a reason to excuse abuse, while also encouraging other victims that it is safe to come forward.

    Ways to Help: As relatives, friends, coworkers, classmates, and neighbors, we must educate ourselves on the dynamics of abuse, how to identify warning signs, and how to intervene so that we can keep victims safe. We must all make a commitment to reach out to anyone whom we suspect or know is being abused. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help them create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources, such as the statewide Helpline (1-800-494-8100). Additional resources and information can be found at www.ricadv.org.

    About Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center: The Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center has been providing services to victims of domestic violence in the Blackstone Valley area for over three decades. It is their voices, their struggles, and their experiences which guide the work. The non-profit organization’s mission is to provide comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence and to provide education and awareness on the issue of domestic violence. The Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center is a member of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. For more information, visit www.bvadvocacycenter.org.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

    ###

  • 03/20/19 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Murder of Clark Murray Sr.

    By Tonya King Harris, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence; and Judith Earle, Executive Director, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center

    [Warwick, RI – Wednesday, March 20, 2019] Our hearts are with the family of Clark Murray, Sr. as we mourn the second incident of domestic violence homicide to occur in Rhode Island in one week. Clark Murray, Sr., 70 years old, was fatally stabbed by his son, Clark Murray, Jr., 40 years old, in their North Providence apartment in the early morning of March 19th. We send our deepest condolences to Clark Murray, Sr.’s wife and family.

    This tragedy calls us to recognize that domestic violence can happen between parents and their adult children, siblings, step-relatives, in-laws, or roommates. Power and control dynamics and abuse are not limited to a particular type of relationship. Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, or socioeconomic status. This homicide brings to light that men are also victims of domestic violence, though women continue to experience victimization at higher rates.

    In this case, the victim’s age, over 60 years old, characterizes this incident as elder abuse. Elderly abuse is oftentimes perpetrated by caregivers or adult children. Incidents of elderly abuse require mandatory reporting to the RI Division of Elderly Affairs.

    No person or relationship is immune to domestic violence. As we mourn another tragic loss this year, as friends, colleagues, neighbors, and bystanders, we must continue to educate ourselves on the dynamics of abuse and the steps we can take to intervene to prevent domestic violence in our communities.  

    How You Can Help: As relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100.

    Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect that someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources. Additional information can be found at ricadv.org.

    To file an elderly abuse or self-neglect report, call the Division of Elderly Affairs Protective Services Unit at 462-0555.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

    About the Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center: The mission of the Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center is to end the perpetration and societal tolerance of interpersonal violence, including all forms of domestic and sexual abuse and, until that is achieved, to provide comprehensive services to victims and education in the community. The organization primarily serves Coventry, Cranston, East Greenwich, Foster, Johnston, North Providence, Scituate, Warwick, West Warwick, and West Greenwich. The Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center is a member of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. For more information, visit www.ebccenter.org.

    ###

  • 03/14/19 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Murder of Lauren Ise

    By Tonya King Harris, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence; and Judith Earle, Executive Director, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center

    [Warwick, RI – Thursday, March 14, 2019] We write this statement with a heavy and grieving heart. On Wednesday, March 13th Lauren Ise, a 29 year old woman from Cranston, was killed by her estranged ex-boyfriend, Michael Marrapese. In the aftermath of this tragic incident, we know that she was deeply loved by her family and friends. They will be forever changed by her murder and once again, our community is struck with another tragic loss of life. With each domestic violence homicide, the depths of our grief grow deeper as a community, but it’s only a fraction of the heartache felt by the friends, family, and loved ones of Lauren Ise.  

    Lauren’s death reminds us of the risks victims face when escaping an abusive relationship. Leaving an abusive relationship is a high lethality risk factor for victims as abusers are more likely to increase their violent behavior during this time. In the wake of her death, it is imperative that our communities, law enforcement, and the criminal justice system continue to be aware of the barriers and risk victims face when escaping abuse.

    Domestic violence homicide is never an isolated event or a momentary loss of temper. It is a pattern of controlling and escalating violent behaviors, with murder being the ultimate act of violence by an abuser. Studies have shown that several risk factors lead to a domestic violence homicide, some of which are the presence of firearms, threats of homicide, previous physical assaults, and when a victim tries to leave the relationship. Law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and domestic violence agencies must continue to work together towards reducing risks of domestic violence homicide in our state.

    Domestic violence occurs every day, in every city and town in Rhode Island. It does not have a face, color, or zip code. However, it is preventable. As a community of friends, colleagues, neighbors, and bystanders we must educate ourselves on the ways we can safely intervene to reduce the risk of another precious life being lost to a domestic violence homicide.

    How You Can Help: As relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100.

    Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect that someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources. Additional information can be found at ricadv.org.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provide a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

    About the Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center: The mission of the Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center is to end the perpetration and societal tolerance of interpersonal violence, including all forms of domestic and sexual abuse and, until that is achieved, to provide comprehensive services to victims and education in the community. The organization primarily serves Coventry, Cranston, East Greenwich, Foster, Johnston, North Providence, Scituate, Warwick, West Warwick, and West Greenwich. The Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center is a member of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. For more information, visit www.ebccenter.org.

    ###

  • 1/16/19 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Murder of Rachael Rene

    By Tonya King Harris, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence; and Vanessa Volz, Executive Director, Sojourner House

    [Providence, RI – Wednesday, January 16, 2019] We are devastated by the domestic violence murder of Rachael Rene, which occurred in her Providence apartment yesterday and marks the first domestic violence homicide of 2019. Rachael was brutally stabbed by her boyfriend, Luis Matta, who surrendered himself to authorities shortly thereafter.

    We are profoundly saddened that only two weeks into the new year, we are mourning another life lost to domestic violence. Rachael, just 33-years-old, was a beloved mother, friend, and member of our community. Her tragic murder reminds us that domestic violence happens every day, in every Rhode Island city and town. In such a small state, we are all affected by Rachael’s death. We extend our deepest condolences to her loved ones and to all who have been impacted by this heinous crime.

    We are particularly distressed to learn that Rachael’s 8-month-old baby was in the home at the time of the murder. Our entire community of survivors and advocates holds this infant child and their family in our hearts, and embrace them with strength and love.

    Every year in Rhode Island, children are present for nearly 2,000 police-involved domestic violence incidents.1 In 2018, 575 children who witnessed abuse received services from our network of member agencies,2 and because domestic violence is underreported, we know that we are reaching only a fraction of the children who are being impacted. Witnessing domestic violence as a child can lead to serious long-term health and developmental consequences, including depression, drug use, poor academic achievement, and post-traumatic stress disorder.3 Infants may experience problems sleeping and eating, and can develop “failure to thrive,” where they do not grow as expected.4

    Rhode Island communities are close-knit, so with 1 in 4 Rhode Islanders experiencing domestic violence in their lifetimes, we have all witnessed the suffering caused by abuse, or know someone who has. Understanding the dynamics of control, we know that perpetrators do not “just snap” or lose their tempers; their violence escalates as their control begins to erode.

    Domestic violence murder is rarely an isolated incident, but is often the final act in a pattern of abuse that has escalated over time. Each of us needs to educate ourselves about the warning signs of domestic violence so that we can identify when someone we know is being abused and connect them to help and resources.

    How You Can Help: 
    As relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100.

    Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect that someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources. Additional information can be found at ricadv.org.

    12018 Rhode Island Kids Count Factbook. 2018. Providence, RI: Rhode Island KIDS COUNT.

    2Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2019.

    3CDC-Kaiser ACE Study. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2016. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/about.html.

    4University of Washington School of Medicine. DV Child Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://depts.washington.edu/hcsats/PDF/TF-%20CBT/pages/psychoeducation.html.


    About the RICADV: 
    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

    About Sojourner House: Sojourner House is a comprehensive domestic violence and sexual assault agency, serving Providence and northern Rhode Island. Sojourner House's mission is to promote healthy relationships by providing culturally sensitive support, advocacy, and education for victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence; and to effect systems change. Sojourner House is a member of the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence and provides safe shelter, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, the Providence metro area’s only drop-in advocacy and resource center, Rhode Island’s only shelters for male victims of domestic violence and victims of human trafficking, support and advocacy for children who witness domestic violence, immigration advocacy, free HIV testing and support, and prevention education programs for students. For more information, visit sojournerri.org.

    ###

Releases & Statements – 2018
  • Releases

  • Statements

  • 10/17/2018 - Candlelight Vigil Honored Victims of Domestic Violence

    The Rhode Island State House was illuminated in purple as survivors, family members, advocates, and supporters gathered to honor all who have lost their lives to domestic violence

    [Providence, RI – October 17, 2018] – On Tuesday evening, nearly 200 people came together on the steps of the Rhode Island State House for a candlelight vigil to honor and remember the 55 lives that have been lost to domestic violence homicide in the last 10 years.

    The vigil was organized by the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) in partnership with its network of member agencies, including Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, Sojourner House, and Women’s Resource Center, and affiliate members Center for Southeast Asians, Crossroads Rhode Island, Family Service of Rhode Island, Progreso Latino, and YWCA Rhode Island.

    As the sun set, the State House was illuminated in purple, the official color of national Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). “Silent Witness” figures soberly set the scene, placed along the platform where community members gathered, each one representing someone who has died as a result of domestic violence, adorned with a plaque that tells their story.

    After opening remarks from Lucy Rios, Director of Prevention and Communications for the RICADV, Satta Jallah, an entrepreneur, writer, artist, and holistic health practitioner, followed with a poem entitled, “She Already Paid the Price.”

    Damaris Roman, a mother, teacher, pastor, and a survivor of domestic violence, spoke next. A member of SOAR (Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships), a task force of the RICADV, Damaris bravely shared her own story of domestic violence.

    “We need to remember those who are not here to tell their stories. We need to honor their voices and their lives by coming together to support each other,” Damaris said. “Now more than ever, we need to challenge the systems that fail survivors when they do speak out. That is why today, I share my voice.”

    The poignant violin swelled as the candle-lighting ceremony was led by the family of MichelleBerthiaume-Benvenuti, who was murdered by her ex-husband on September 30, 2018.

    Pastor Enrique Newman, a victim advocate and a member of Ten Men (a RICADV prevention initiative),offered the crowd a few words from his perspective as a faith leader.

    “When you take a moment and you look around, and you see who’s next to you, you will find that youare not alone,” said Pastor Newman. “There is healing in leaning on each other. Even in the midst oftragedy, there is hope.”

    After observing a moment of silence, the crowd huddled together in the glow from their candles duringthe reading of the names of the 55 people who have lost their lives to domestic violence homicide inRhode Island in the last 10 years.

    “As painful as it is to mourn those we have lost and to acknowledge the devastating impact domesticviolence has on our state, may we find solace and strength in bearing witness together andstrengthening our resolve to end abuse,” said Rios. “Take comfort in knowing that each of us willcontinue to shine our light in honor of those we have lost, and on behalf of survivors everywhere.”

    About the RICADV:

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

    The RICADV's network of member agencies provides comprehensive emergency and support servicesto victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, and stalking. Services include 24-hourhotline support, emergency shelter, support groups, counseling services, and assistance with the legalsystem. For more information, call the statewide Helpline at 1-800-494-8100 or visit www.ricadv.org.

    ###

  • 10/12/2018 - Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence Welcomes New Executive Director Tonya King Harris

    Warwick, RI – October 12, 2018 – The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) Board of Directors and staff welcome Tonya King Harris as the agency’s new executive director, beginning October 29, 2018. Harris will succeed Deborah DeBare, who served as the organization’s executive director for 22 years and is now senior deputy director at the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Harris is currently the executive director at the Center for Mediation & Collaboration RI (CMCRI), which provides Rhode Islanders a safe and affordable place to resolve conflict through alternative dispute resolution.

    A lifelong resident of Rhode Island, Harris has decades of experience working to empower others, bridge communities, and build relationships. She served the Providence Police Department (PPD) and its residents as an officer for twenty years, and is an experienced mediator and conflict resolution trainer who has used her skills to train police officers and public officials in South Africa and Rhode Island. She has held leadership roles at the Providence Black Repertory Company, the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Rhode Island of Rhode Island, and the Greater Providence YMCA of Rhode Island. She has also served on the Board of Directors at the Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, where she helped educate the community and advocate against domestic violence.

    “I believe that diversity is our strength and that being kind and patient with each other are essential to creating a culture of respect,” said Harris. “I look forward to collaborating with the individuals, agencies, and community and national partners that are working to end domestic violence in Rhode Island and beyond.”

    “The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence is excited to embrace this time of change and revitalization, as we reflect on our history and herald a new chapter full of possibilities for coalition-building and transformation. Given the current national climate, we need a leader who is willing to bridge differences and promote collaboration while providing trauma-informed leadership,” said Jennifer Meade, president of the RICADV Board of Directors. “Tonya’s unique experiences, and her stalwart commitment to and passion for empowering others and bringing people together, show that she is the right person to lead this organization at this time.”

    About the RICADV:

    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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. For more information about the RICADV, visit www.ricadv.org.

  • 3/27/2018 - RICADV Executive Director Deborah DeBare Accepts Position with the National Network to End Domestic Violence

    After nearly 23 years serving as executive director of The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV), Deborah DeBare has recently accepted a position as Senior Deputy Director at the National Network to End Domestic Violence. There, she will be working with coalitions from around the country to strengthen their capacity and solidify the work of the domestic violence movement on a national platform.  

    “My two decades of service at the Rhode Island Coaltion Against Domestic Violence have been extremely fulfilling and consistently challenging in ways I would never have expected,” said DeBare. “I have witnessed tremendous changes and pivots in the domestic violence movement during my time here, and I’m proud of all we have accomplished. After reflecting on what’s ahead, both for me and for RICADV, I am confident that the organization is well-prepared for this transition, with the staff, board, infrastructure, and resources necessary to move successfully into the future.”

    During DeBare’s tenure, the RICADV has achieved national recognition for their innovative domestic violence prevention initiatives, for their ground-breaking communications work, and for Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR), their award-winning taskforce of survivors. In addition, DeBare and the RICADV Policy Team are highly respected in the RI Statehouse and beyond, having helped pass numerous bills that seek to help victims of domestic violence, their families, and all Rhode Islanders.

    DeBare’s influence was instrumental in the passage of legislation that established a Domestic Violence Prevention Fund in Rhode Island, which has supported over a dozen local prevention initiatives since it was established two years ago. Under her leadership, the RICADV expanded to welcome five new affiliate member agencies, demonstrating their ongoing commitment to meaningful partnership with marginalized communities and other allied organizations.

    “From the time Deb joined the RICADV in 1995, her creativity, passion, and thoughtful planning have helped lead the agency to become fiscally sound, programmatically diverse, flexible, strong, and well-prepared,” said Jennifer Meade, president of the RICADV Board of Directors. “She leaves behind a remarkable legacy of accomplishment, and has left an indelible mark on this organization and our state.”

    The RICADV Board of Directors will be hiring an interim administrator to ensure a smooth transition while undertaking a systematic search process for the new executive director. DeBare will remain at RICADV through May in order to support the organization through this transition.

     

    About the RICADV:

    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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. For more information about the RICADV, visit www.ricadv.org.

    ###

  • 2/6/18 - Teen Dating Violence Impacts Young Rhode Islanders – Our Schools and Communities Can Play a Role in Prevention


    This February, national Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence has released a Policy Evaluation Report on the Lindsay Ann Burke Act, Rhode Island’s comprehensive teen dating violence education law

    [Providence, RI – February 6, 2018] Teen dating violence is a serious issue affecting 8.8% of Rhode Island high school students, according to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. When it comes to young Rhode Islanders who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, the number more than doubles to 23%.

    “Research tells us that teen victims of dating violence are much more likely than their peers who have not experienced dating violence to drink, use drugs, have an eating disorder, or attempt suicide. They are also more likely to have experienced sexual assault or bullying,” said Lucy Rios, Director of Prevention and Communications for the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV). “As parents, educators, and community members, we owe it to our young people to raise the visibility of this issue and do everything we can to address and prevent this type of abuse.”

    That is why this February, during national Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, the RICADV is spotlighting the release of its recent report on the Lindsay Ann Burke Act, Rhode Island’s comprehensive teen dating violence education law.

    The report paints a picture of how the Act is being implemented in Rhode Island, ten years after its momentous passage in 2007. The first such teen dating violence education law in the country, the Lindsay Ann Burke Act requires every Rhode Island middle and high school to educate all staff and students about the dynamics of abuse and have a policy on how to respond to incidents of dating violence.

    Based on key informant interviews with school-level staff and administrators, district-level administrators, and key partner organizations from across the state, the report identifies key facilitators and barriers to implementing the Act. The report also offers five recommendations for how to support administrators, teachers, and staff in complying with this important, potentially life-saving teen dating violence education law.

    “Preventing teen dating violence will involve collaborating across disciplines and classrooms, and creating a school culture that supports all students’ well-being. While addressing teen dating violence through Health education is vital, it will take entire school communities to prevent dating abuse,” said Deborah DeBare, executive director of the RICADV. “It is our hope that this report will motivate school districts across the state to figure out the ways they can play a role in realizing these recommendations in order to safeguard their students from dating violence.”

    Although the report’s recommendations focus primarily on engaging school administrators, district-level professionals, and key policy and practice influencers, there is also a role for any individual who cares about the well-being of Rhode Island youth.

    For example, parents can get involved in their local school district’s Health and Wellness Committee and push for schools to include teen dating violence prevention as a critical part of the Health curriculum. Teachers can update their lesson plans to incorporate best practices and promising strategies for preventing teen dating violence.

    “Each of us has a role to play in preventing abusive relationships among youth in our state and making sure this law is being implemented in our schools,” said DeBare. “Together, we can ensure that all young people in Rhode Island have safe and bright futures ahead of them—because those futures are in our hands.”

    The report can be accessed online at www.ricadv.org. For a copy of the report or for more information, please contact the RICADV at 401-467-9940 or ricadv@ricadv.org.

    ###

  • 1/30/18 - The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence Welcomes Five Inaugural Affiliate Members


    During a Membership Gathering on January 22nd, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) recognized five exemplary local programs, each nominated by one of its full member agencies, and honored its first five affiliate members

    [Providence, RI – January 30, 2018] Surrounded by the beauty of the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) celebrated the hard work and dedication of its member agencies at its first ever Membership Gathering on January 22nd.

    “As we strive to end domestic violence in Rhode Island, it is important to connect across sectors and deepen our ties to the communities we serve,” said Deborah DeBare, executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Over the last year, our membership has doubled in size as we’ve welcomed five inaugural affiliate members, bringing more voices to the table in order to expand our reach and build a vibrant, inclusive movement to end violence.”

    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The RICADV’s Full Member Agencies are organizations whose primary purpose is to end domestic violence and provide victim services. These organizations were recognized at the event, along with an outstanding program nominated by each agency:

    • Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center – Court Advocacy Program
    • Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County – Support Groups at Galilee Mission
    • Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center – Youth Empowerment Zone at Hugh B. Bain Middle School
    • Sojourner House – THEIA (Trafficking Housing Empowerment Immigration Advocacy) Project
    • Women’s Resource Center – Court Advocacy Program

    In 2017, the RICADV expanded to include affiliate membership. Affiliate Member Agencies are organizations whose work includes some programming to address or prevent domestic violence. The RICADV is thrilled to announce its five inaugural Affiliate Members:

    • Center for Southeast Asians
    • Crossroads Rhode Island
    • Family Service of Rhode Island
    • Progreso Latino
    • YWCA Rhode Island

    The Membership Gathering commemorated the RICADV’s expansion and brought together its network of member agencies to affirm their collective vision of a world without violence.

    Internationally acclaimed storyteller Len Cabral performed as the event’s keynote. A member of the RICADV’s Ten Men project and the face of the RICADV’s “No More Silence” public awareness campaign, Cabral captivated the group with his storytelling and shared his personal connection to the issue.

    “I have always been surrounded by strong women, including my two daughters,” said Cabral. “They have taught me so much, and they inspire me to keep learning about the role I have, that all men have, in ending violence. Gathering together in community, as we are today, is vital to our well-being and humanity as we work to build a better world.”

    The RICADV is currently accepting applications for affiliate members on a rolling basis. Benefits of affiliate membership include unlimited registrations to RICADV trainings at no cost, networking opportunities, technical assistance, and more. A portion of the applicant’s programming must be focused on domestic violence prevention or services. Affiliate Member Agencies are required to have been in existence for a full year since filing for their 501(c)(3) status, must demonstrate fiscal viability, and must be meeting an unmet community need without duplicating existing services for victims of domestic violence.

    For a complete list of benefits and requirements, and to view or download an application, visit www.ricadv.org/en/about-us-ricadv/member-agencies.

    ###

  • 1/10/18 - New Website Available to Help Victims of Crime


    Day One and the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence have collaborated to launch www.HelplineRI.com, a new resource for victims of crime in Rhode Island

    [Providence, RI – January 10, 2018] Experiencing a violent crime can be traumatic and confusing; now, victims have a website available to help navigate their options. Offering information about services in Rhode Island, the www.HelplineRI.com website is an extension of Rhode Island’s Victims of Crime Helpline, which offers free, confidential, 24/7 support and advocacy for those impacted by crimes of violence.

    “In 1995, when the entire country was watching the O.J. Simpson case, a group of us were outraged that Rhode Island didn’t have a statewide phone number that victims of domestic violence could call for help,” said Deborah DeBare, executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV). “So we stood outside the Garrahy Courthouse in Providence, cups in hand, and we collected enough money to start a statewide helpline.”

    Today, a variety of sources fund the 24/7 statewide Helpline and website, including the Victims of Crime Act and “Stop VAWA” funding. The Rhode Island Victims of Crime Helpline, also called “The Helpline,” is a collaboration between Day One, the RICADV, and the Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center. The Helpline is staffed by advocates at the Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, and serves all of Rhode Island.

    “The Helpline is available to anyone who has experienced a victimization, or anyone trying to help someone who has,” said Linda Impagliazzo, executive director of Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center. “We receive many calls related to domestic violence and sexual assault, but our advocates are also available to help victims of human trafficking, hate crime, and other types of crime.”

    The 24/7 phone Helpline will continue to be available. The addition of a website is designed to help victims understand how the Helpline works so that they will feel more comfortable calling, as well as to provide them with a place to find the information and resources they are seeking. In addition, there is a section for hospital and police staff to easily locate the resources they need to help people in crisis.

    “In 2017, we had a record number of Helpline calls,” said Peg Langhammer, executive director of Day One. “The need is great and people are reaching out for support; hopefully the Helpline website will be one more resource available to make life better for Rhode Island victims of violence and their support networks.”

    About Day One:

    Established as the RI Rape Crisis Center in 1973, Day One is the only agency in Rhode Island organized specifically to deal with issues of sexual assault as a community concern. Day One’s mission is to reduce the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence and to support and advocate for those affected by it. Day One provides treatment, intervention, education, advocacy, and prevention services to Rhode Islanders of all ages—from preschool children to elder adults. Additionally, Day One advocates for public policy initiatives and systemic changes that positively impact how Rhode Island families handle sexual abuse cases. For more information, visit www.dayoneri.org.

    About the RICADV:

    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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 visit www.HelplineRI.com.

    ###

 
  • 10/1/18 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Homicide of Michelle Berthiaume-Benvenuti

    By Lucy Rios, Director of Prevention and Communications, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence; and Vanessa Volz, Executive Director, Sojourner House

    [Providence, RI – Monday, October 1, 2018] Our hearts ache for the family, friends, and community of Michelle Berthiaume-Benvenuti in this time of grief. On the morning of Sunday, September 30, Michelle was fatally shot by her ex-husband, Glenn Benvenuti, who later took his own life. Michelle was a beloved mother, friend, and employee of East Bay Community Action Program; she will be greatly missed.

    We are particularly distressed to learn that their 7-year-old son was in the house at the time of the murder-suicide; our entire community of survivors and advocates embrace this young boy and his caregivers with strength and love, and hold them in our thoughts and prayers. Children witnessing domestic violence represents a local and national public health crisis, with nearly 2,000 incidents with children present every year during domestic violence arrests in Rhode Island.1 Witnessing domestic violence as a child can lead to serious long-term health and developmental consequences, including depression, drug-use, poor academic achievement, and post-traumatic stress disorder.2 Rhode Island must continue to strengthen the response to domestic violence to ensure that no more children experience the loss of their parents.

    This tragedy occurred on the eve of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, when the country pauses to remember the many lives lost to domestic violence. We should have begun this month with hope for healing. Instead, we are in mourning. Rhode Island has now experienced three domestic violence homicides in 2018 – all three were murder-suicides, all three were committed with a firearm, and two of the three had children in the home at the time of the incident. No words can adequately describe the impact that such a horrific act can have on family members, friends, loved ones, and the community as a whole.

    Domestic violence occurs every day, in every Rhode Island city and town, and because we cannot hold the perpetrator accountable in domestic violence murder-suicide cases, we must hold ourselves accountable as a community. We invite the public to join us on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 on the steps of the Rhode Island State House to remember and honor all those we have lost to domestic violence.

    How You Can Help: If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour support at 800-494-8100.

    As relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help.

    If you know or suspect that someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources, such as the Helpline (800-494-8100). Additional resources and information can be found at www.ricadv.org.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provide a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

    About Sojourner House: Sojourner House is a comprehensive domestic violence and sexual assault agency, serving areas in northern Rhode Island, including Woonsocket. Sojourner House's mission is to promote healthy relationships by providing culturally sensitive support, advocacy, and education for victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence; and to effect systems change. Sojourner House is a member of the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence and provides safe shelter, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, the Providence metro area’s only drop-in advocacy and resource center, Rhode Island’s only shelters for male victims of domestic violence and victims of human trafficking, support and advocacy for children who witness domestic violence, immigration advocacy, free HIV testing and support, and prevention education programs for students. For more information, visit www.sojournerri.org.

    ###

    1. 2016 Rhode Island Kids Count Factbook. 2016. Providence, RI: Rhode Island KIDS COUNT.

    2. CDC-Kaiser ACE Study. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2016. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/about.html.

  • 3/2/18 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Homicide of Vicky Sonevong


    By Deborah DeBare, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Vanessa Volz, Executive Director, Sojourner House; and Channavy Chhay, Executive Director, Center for Southeast Asians

    [Providence, RI – March 2, 2018] We are devastated by the domestic violence murder of Vicky Sonevong, who was fatally shot by her boyfriend, Steve Soundara, on Thursday in the Providence apartment where Vicky lived with their 4-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. Soundara then fatally shot himself. We extend our deepest condolences to all who have been impacted by this heinous crime, the first domestic violence homicide of 2018.

    Domestic violence murder is rarely an isolated incident, but is often the final act in a pattern of abuse that has escalated over time. Certain factors indicate an increased risk for domestic homicide; for example, when a firearm is present in a domestic violence situation, the risk of homicide for women is five times greater than when a firearm is not present.1 This tragedy is a stark reminder of why we must continue to advocate for common sense gun safety measures, including the firearms safety bills that have been introduced at the Rhode Island General Assembly this legislative session. We urge our elected officials to take critical action to save lives.

    We are particularly distressed to learn that Vicky’s two young children were in the direct vicinity of the apartment when the murder-suicide occurred. No child should ever have to experience the loss of their mother to such a tragedy or endure the suffering caused by violence in the home. Now, as a result of this trauma, Vicky’s children may continue to experience a range of severe negative effects lasting well into adulthood.

    Let us be sure to call murder-suicides what they are: the ultimate act of domestic violence. According to media reports, Soundara allegedly physically abused Vicky over the course of many years and repeatedly threatened to take her life. Vicky and Soundara were also often estranged, and we know that ending an abusive relationship can be one of the most dangerous times for a victim. When a victim attempts to separate from the abuser, there is a higher risk of escalating violence and homicide as the abuser tries to retain power and control over the situation.

    Domestic violence occurs every day, in every Rhode Island city and town, and because we cannot hold the batterer accountable in domestic violence murder-suicide cases, we must hold ourselves accountable as a community.

    We each have a role in naming domestic violence, knowing the warning signs, supporting those impacted by abuse, and finding ways to safely intervene. Rhode Island must continue to strengthen the response to domestic violence, to ensure that no more lives are lost and that no more children experience the tragedy of losing their beloved mother.

    We cannot be silent. Each and every one of us must say “NO MORE”—because 1 in 4 Rhode Islanders is a victim of abuse. They are our loved ones, neighbors, coworkers, and friends, and they are counting on us.

    1Campbell, J. C., Webster, D., Koziol-McLain, J., Block, C., Campbell, D., Curry, M. A., . . . Laughon, K. (2003). Risk factors for femicide in abusive relationships: Results from a multisite case control study. American Journal of Public Health, 93(7), 1089-1097.

    How You Can Help: If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour support at 800-494-8100.

    As relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help.

    If you know or suspect that someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources, such as the Helpline (800-494-8100). Additional resources and information can be found at www.ricadv.org.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provide a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

    About the Center for Southeast Asians: The mission of the Center for Southeast Asians (CSEA) is to promote the prosperity, heritage, and leadership of Southeast Asians in Rhode Island. An Affiliate Member of the RICADV, CSEA is the only organization comprehensively serving the needs of approximately 20,000 Southeast Asian immigrants and refugees living in Rhode Island.

    Since 1991, CSEA’s Victims Assistance Program has been active in designating victims of child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence as priority crime populations. Through the program, the agency educates the Southeast Asian community about the legal and emotional consequences of these crimes and the services available victims. Comprehensive and individualized direct services are available to meet clients’ immediate needs, guiding them in their transformation in becoming survivors. For more information, visit www.cseari.org.

    About Sojourner House:
    Sojourner House is a comprehensive domestic violence and sexual assault agency. Sojourner House's mission is to promote healthy relationships by providing culturally sensitive support, advocacy, and education for victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence; and to effect systems change. Sojourner House is a member of the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence and provides safe shelter, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, the Providence metro area’s only drop-in advocacy and resource center, Rhode Island’s only shelters for male victims of domestic violence and victims of human trafficking, support and advocacy for children who witness domestic violence, immigration advocacy, free HIV testing and support, and prevention education programs for students. For more information, visit www.sojournerri.org.


    ###

Releases & Statements – 2017
  • Releases

  • Statements

  • 10/2/17 - Op-Ed: When we stay silent, domestic violence thrives

    Op-Ed

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, 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. 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.

    There are many ways to get involved this October. Attend one of the many events throughout the state to support local domestic violence agencies who are dedicated to serving victims and their children each and every day. Support the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) in the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge. Like and share our social media posts, and talk to your family and friends about healthy relationships and the warning signs of abuse.

    If we each make a commitment to help end domestic violence, just think about the collective impact we can have! No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Visit www.nomoreri.org and follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ricadv) to learn more. Together, we can build a safer, more peaceful Rhode Island. No more silence!

    Deborah DeBare is the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence.

    ###

  • 10/5/17 - Public Service Announcement: Ten Men and the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence Invite Rhode Island Men to 4th Annual “Men’s Summit: Breaking the Silence” on November 9, Hosted by Providence College

    WHEN:

    Thursday, November 9, 2017

    5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Doors open at 5:00 p.m.

    WHERE:

    Providence College
    Moore Hall
    1 Cunningham Square
    Providence, RI 02918

    WHAT:

    The 4th Annual “Men’s Summit: Breaking the Silence” is designed for and led by men who want to play an active role in preventing domestic violence in their communities. All individuals who identify as male are welcome.Ten Men, a statewide prevention initiative of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV), is made up of Rhode Island men from diverse walks of life who share a common vision—a world without domestic violence. This November, Ten Men invites men in Rhode Island to stand with them at the 4th Annual Men's Summit to help break the silence.

    “Studies show that only a small percentage of men are violent; however, the majority of domestic violence is perpetrated by men against women,” said Lee Clasper-Torch, Men’s Engagement Coordinator for the RICADV and Ten Men. “We need nonviolent men to take a stand.Most men are not violent, so they often think, ‘That’s not my problem.’ But it is our problem. We, as men, need to look at the root causes of violence against women and learn what we can do to prevent it.”At the summit, Ten Men members will lead conversations about how men can prevent violence against women and girls, promote healthy masculinity, and create the cultural shift needed to end domestic violence. The event is free to attend. Doors open at 5:00 p.m. A complimentary dinner will be provided, thanks to event sponsor Providence College.

    To learn more about Ten Men and to register, visit www.ricadv.org/tenmen.


    About Ten Men:

    Ten Men is a statewide prevention initiative of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV), funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s DELTA FOCUS grant. Ten Men consists of male community leaders who engage themselves and others in domestic violence prevention while bringing visibility to their efforts; educate themselves and others about the role that men must play in ending domestic violence; and mobilize communities to find community-based solutions for preventing domestic violence.

    About the RICADV:

    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

    ###

  • 7/31/17 - Public Service Announcement: Rhode Islanders are invited to participate in a survey to gauge statewide attitudes toward domestic violence


    $150 in cash prizes will be awarded each week, for a total of $600 in prizes

    WHEN:

    August 1, 2017 - August 31, 2017

    WHERE:

    Survey in English: www.surveymonkey.com/r/ricadvsurvey
    Survey in Spanish: www.surveymonkey.com/r/ricadvsurveyspanish 

    WHAT:

    On behalf of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV), professional research and evaluation firm, McClanahan Associates, Inc. (MAI),is seeking individuals across the state of Rhode Island to participate in an online survey to gauge statewide attitudes toward domestic violence. The survey will take 15-20 minutes to complete and is anonymous (no link will be made between individuals’ names and responses). All those who complete the online survey will be entered into a weekly raffle for the chance to receive a $50 Amazon gift card. There will be three randomly selected winners each week, for a total of 12 winners.

    WHY:

    For decades, the RICADV has worked to shape the media landscape to empower domestic violence survivors and to counter social acceptance of domestic violence in order to prevent it. This survey is an opportunity for RICADV to learn about current community attitudes toward domestic violence across the state of Rhode Island.

    Access the survey online on www.ricadv.org between August 1 -August 31, 2017. To learn more about this research study, contact: Kelly Piccinino (267) 457-4600, ext. 105, or email kpiccinino@maieval.com.

    About the RICADV:

    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

    ###

  • 4/18/17 - Op-Ed: Rhode Island Must Pass the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act

    Op-Ed

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, April 18, 2017

    Today in Rhode Island, 41% of private sector workers have no guaranteed paid sick or safe days. Many Rhode Islanders who are victims of domestic and sexual violence are forced to make impossible decisions: "Should I go to the hospital to treat my injuries, or go to work so I won’t be fired?" "Can I afford to take a day off to file a restraining order against my abuser?"

    The Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act (S0290/H5413) would guarantee a minimum amount of earned sick and safe days for all Rhode Islanders. It would also include vital protections for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Victims need access to earned paid leave so they can take time to relocate from a dangerous abuser or seek emergency services without fearing losing their job or daily wages. Loss of financial stability can exacerbate the cycle of abuse and is a major barrier to leaving an abusive relationship. No victim of domestic violence or sexual assault should have to choose between their health and safety or their economic security.

    The financial and moral cost of failing to protect victims is far too great to delay passing this practical legislation. It is for all of these reasons that the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and its member agencies are proud to support the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act; we urge our state lawmakers to do the same.

    Deborah DeBare is the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence.

    ###

  • 4/11/17 - Internationally renowned author, educator, and activist Tony Porter, spoke at the A CALL TO MEN Symposium on Tuesday


    Tony Porter, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, SOAR, and Ten Men invited the community to take an active role in preventing domestic violence

    [Providence, RI - Tuesday, April 11, 2017] On April 11, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) hosted "Changing the Culture, Stopping the Violence" A CALL TO MEN Symposium featuring internationally renowned author, educator, and activist, Tony Porter. The symposium served as an opportunity for men and women of all ages to learn ways to recognize and challenge sexism, which is believed to be at the root of violence against women.

    Co-founder and CEO of A CALL TO MEN, Porter is internationally recognized for his efforts to mobilize men and communities to shift attitudes and behaviors that devalue women, girls, and other marginalized groups. Based in New York, A CALL TO MEN aims to shift the social norms that define manhood in our culture and influence a national movement of men committed to ending all forms of violence against women. 

    The symposium highlighted that although domestic violence, sexual assault, and other forms of violence against women have long been seen as ͚women͛s issues, men are most often the perpetrators of the violence, and therefore must be part of the solution. While most men do not and would never use violence in their relationships, many men remain silent in the face of other men's violence. The speaker called on these well-meaning men to take responsibility for their part in addressing these issues. Using personal anecdotes and challenging widespread stereotypes, Porter engaged the listeners and urged them to take a deeper look into their own assumptions and everyday actions.

    "We are excited to see so many men in attendance today," said Lucy Rios, RICADV Director of Prevention and Communications. "There is a growing community of men in Rhode Island who want to get involved with this work – who see it as their role to learn about the issue and speak to other men."

    Over the last decade, Rhode Island has become a national leader in domestic violence prevention. RICADV's Ten Men initiative has been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a promising strategy, which will be held up as a national model for engaging men in domestic violence primary prevention. Now in its fifth year, Ten Men has built the knowledge and capacity of dozens of male community leaders in Rhode Island, many of whom attended the symposium.

    "Introducing men and boys to this work can be eye-opening for them," said Lee Clasper-Torch, Men's Engagement Coordinator. "We have all been brought up in a world that victimizes and objectifies women. As soon as we as men start to see the ways this hurts not only women, but everyone, we can change how we act and react, and begin to end violence against women." Damaris, a member of Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR), spoke following Porter as part of their practice of having a woman deliver the "Last Word" at A CALL TO MEN events. She shared her story about how her voice was dismissed and demeaned by her abuser, and how difficult it was to break the cycle of abuse and find a way to speak out against the violence.

    "I've decided to make a difference with my voice," said Damaris. "I need your to help to make this message resonate to the world by having conversations on how to end the cycle of abuse. We need to educate our loved ones, our leaders, and our communities. Together we can end the silence and stigma surrounding domestic violence."

    About A CALL TO MEN:

    A CALL TO MEN is a violence prevention organization and respected leader on issues of manhood, male socialization and its intersection with violence, and preventing violence against all women and girls. A CALL TO MEN educates men all over the world on healthy, respectful manhood, with over 20 years of experience working with and training men, from the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, and the National Hockey League, to the United States Military, the Department of Justice, and the United Nations. For more information about A CALL TO MEN, visit www.acalltomen.org.

    ###

  • 4/10/17 - Op-Ed: Rhode Island Must Not Allow Dangerous Abusers to Possess Firearms

    Op-Ed

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, April 10, 2017

    On Wednesday, April 5, I spoke at the State House as a survivor of domestic violence to support the Protect Rhode Island Families Act (S0405/H5510). It was an honor and a daunting task to speak on behalf of the nearly 10,000 Rhode Islanders each year who are victims of domestic violence. I also spoke for the victims who are no longer with us and able to speak for themselves – from 1980 through 2016, 177 Rhode Islanders lost their lives to domestic violence homicide. Seventy-five of these individuals (42%) were killed with firearms.

    When I first met the man who would one day hold a gun to my head, he seemed perfect. He was charming, friendly, and respected in the community. But before I knew it, it went from a fairytale to a horror story. He isolated me from my loved ones and controlled my every move. It didn't take long for the physical abuse to start. The abuse was constant; he would push me around, strangle me, or strike me with rolled-up newspapers. One time as we were driving on the highway, he opened the door and tried to push me out.

    Still, all of these physical horrors I experienced did not compare to the fear and intimidation caused by having a gun as part of our daily lives. A friend who came to my house would say the gun was a centerpiece on our dining room table. He used the gun to intimidate me. He would threaten to shoot himself or me, sometimes in front of my two children. When the gun was drawn, I had to plead for him to stop and consent to whatever he wanted. The cold pressure of the gun on my temple is something impossible to forget. There were days that I wondered if I would live to see another day. The fear and terror were always present.

    When I tried to get a protective order, the judge granted it, but allowed my abuser to keep his weapons. My experience mirrors the bigger picture; statistics show that in cases where final protective orders were issued, Rhode Island courts ordered abusers to turn in their guns only 5% of the time. Federal law prohibits people under final domestic abuse protective orders from buying or possessing guns, but there is no mandated system in RI for these abusers to turn in the guns they own.

    We must finally protect families from this type of terror and violence, by closing the loopholes in Rhode Island law that allow dangerous abusers to keep their weapons. It is for this reason that I urge the General Assembly to pass the Protect Rhode Island Families Act.

    Giovanna Rodriguez is a member of Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR), a task force of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

    ###

  • 3/8/17 - The Domestic Violence Prevention Fund will Support Five Innovative New Projects that Seek to Prevent Dating and Domestic Violence in Rhode Island


    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, YWCA Rhode Island, Progreso Latino, Sojourner House, Youth In Action, and Princes 2 Kings are implementing groundbreaking primary prevention programs this year thanks to Rhode Island’s first dedicated funding


    [Providence, RI – March 8, 2017] In 2016, recognizing that the prevention of dating and domestic violence is vital to the health of all Rhode Islanders, the Rhode Island General Assembly established the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund (DVPF). The DVPF will be administered by the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) and will support evidence-informed primary prevention programs that aim to stop intimate partner violence before it starts. A total of $180,000 in grant funding will be distributed annually.

    "For more than ten years, Rhode Island has been at the forefront of primary prevention programs that aim to prevent intimate partner violence," said Deborah DeBare, Executive Director at the RICADV. "We are excited that this funding will increase the number of schools, community groups, and community-based agencies that are engaged in this work, enabling us to reach diverse communities and populations throughout Rhode Island."

    In January 2017, three Implementation Project awards were granted to local organizations. When making decisions about which projects would be funded, priority was given to proposals that focused on altering norms, policies, and community conditions that impact girls and boys of color and LGBTQ and Two-Spirit youth, and that support the implementation of the Lindsay Ann Burke Act in schools.

    YWCA Rhode Island received a $55,000 implementation grant to train educators, youth workers, service providers, and community members on the historical and current ways that institutional and structural racism impact girls of color and to provide a proven practice for building resiliency in girls.

    "Our project recognizes that girls of color are often overlooked when community members, service providers, and educators address issues of gender and racial inequality, and its relationship to intimate partner violence," said Deborah Perry, President/CEO of YWCA Rhode Island. "It is a clarion call to all of our better selves to highlight the unique struggles of girls of color and ask what we as individuals and as part of larger organizations can do to improve our society by raising awareness and focusing on altering norms, polices, and community conditions that impact girls of color."

    Progreso Latino received a $55,000 implementation grant to execute Teen & Adult Prevention Program (TAPP), which will use a holistic public health approach to build the community’s capacity to address intimate partner violence in the Blackstone Valley area. TAPP will create adult and youth social action groups that will assess community challenges and then mobilize the community to identify and lead social change efforts and policy reforms. Progreso Latino has partnered with Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, the local domestic violence agency in that area, to provide domestic violence prevention education to social action groups and local schools.

    "We understand that violence is a symptom of many factors and that we need to work together in order to make a difference," said Mario Bueno, Executive Director of Progreso Latino. "We are eager to work with the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center along with other organizations in order to seek out grassroots solutions to intimate partner violence."

    Sojourner House received a $55,000 implementation grant to launch the Interpersonal Violence Youth Peer Advocacy Network Program in Providence and Woonsocket communities. With support from three community-based youth serving organizations, Youth Pride Inc., Youth In Action, and Youth Works 411, as well as the Providence Student Union, Sojourner House will train youth activists and establish a peer advocacy program that will support schools with the implementation of the Lindsay Ann Burke Act.

    "Sojourner House currently operates a variety of direct and emergency services programs to help victims of abuse reclaim their lives," said Vanessa Volz, Executive Director of Sojourner House. "We're thrilled to receive funding to help address the root causes of interpersonal violence and therefore be part of the solution to prevent violent relationships before they happen. We know this work is a community effort, which is why we've partnered with local youth organizations and schools in Providence and Woonsocket to implement our project."

    In addition to the three Implementation Project grants, the RICADV awarded two one-time community micro-grants. Priority was given to short-term projects that foster and increase community cohesion through public awareness, education, and the arts; and that help community members make a personal connection to the issue of intimate partner violence by encouraging bystanders to take action.

    Youth In Action received a $9,755 micro-grant to support the development and implementation of a series of youth-designed community events, including a youth-led led film and discussion series and social media campaign. Youth In Action will train staff to recognize, respond to, and make referrals for families experiencing intimate partner violence.

    Princes 2 Kings received a $5,000 micro-grant to develop an engaging and educational stop motion animation film addressing teen dating violence. The script will be developed by the program participants, who will also perform, record, and edit the film.

    More information about domestic violence primary prevention, the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund, and these projects can be found on the RICADV’s website: www.ricadv.org/dvpf.


    About the RICADV:

    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including 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. For more information about the RICADV, visit www.ricadv.org.


    About Princes 2 Kings:

    Princes 2 Kings is a multicomponent program that combines academics and tutoring in STEAM, as well as athletics, mentoring, cultural enrichment activities, and workforce development for program participants year-round, with a goal of improving high school graduation rates among middle school and high school males of color in the West End and South Side of Providence. Learn more: www.facebook.com/P2KPVD.


    About Progreso Latino:

    Progreso Latino is a community-based organization located in Central Falls whose mission is to empower Rhode Island’s Latino and immigrant communities to achieve greater self-sufficiency and socio-economic progress by providing transformational programs that support personal growth and social change. Learn more: www.progresolatino.org.


    About Sojourner House:

    Sojourner House is the local domestic violence agency serving Providence and Northern Rhode Island. Their mission is to promote healthy relationships by providing culturally sensitive support, advocacy, and education for victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence; and to effect systems change. Learn more: www.sojournerri.org.


    About Youth in Action:

    Youth in Action is a youth-led organization whose focus is on engaging youth to be full participants and leaders in their communities, serving as agents of social change. Youth In Action uses digital media arts, community health, and student centered techniques to engage youth and build a context for passion and closing the achievement gap. Learn more: www.youthinactionri.org.


    About YWCA Rhode Island:

    YWCA Rhode Island is a social justice organization and movement providing direct service to, collaborating with, and advocating on behalf of the most structurally disenfranchised people in our society, including low-wage workers, the unemployed, women and girls, people of color, English language learners, immigrants, survivors of abuse, members of the LGBTQ community, as well as current military and veterans. Learn more: www.ywcari.org.

    ###

  • 2/22/17 - Rhode Island is first in the country to have statewide Law Enforcement Advocates


    Day One, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and their member agencies have ensured that every police department statewide will have a Law Enforcement Advocate available to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault

    [Providence, RI – February 22, 2017] The Law Enforcement Advocate (LEA) program, which has been successful at various police departments throughout Rhode Island, has expanded to serve the entire state. After gaps in the system were identified in 2016, domestic violence and sexual assault service agencies throughout Rhode Island applied for VOCA, VAWA, and other grants in order to be able to fully fund this program, which is coordinated by Day One and the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) in partnership with law enforcement. The very first Law Enforcement Advocates in Rhode Island started in 1996 and the program has continued to grow.

    "The Providence Police Department and our Law Enforcement Advocates have worked together to build a strong partnership over the years," said Providence Police Chief Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr. "The relationship between our officers and LEAs has proven invaluable when working with the innocent victims of domestic and sexual crimes, and I am pleased to know that every department in the state will now benefit from this same partnership."

    The Law Enforcement Advocates are physically based within the police departments and fill a gap for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. When a police department identifies a case of domestic violence or sexual assault, the LEA is notified and reaches out to the victim to offer support and guidance. The LEA does not take the place of an attorney, but the advocate can help provide vital guidance and support to a victim during a time of extreme stress and confusion.

    "Advocates throughout the state saw a serious need for advocacy in every Rhode Island community," said Peg Langhammer, Executive Director of Day One. "Now, thanks to the expansion of this program, victims across Rhode Island will be supported every step of the way. In the last three years alone, Rhode Island LEAs have been able to support over 10,000 victims."

    Through the LEA, victims have access to services that are specific to their needs – such as emotional support, referrals for services, advocacy, and case assistance. Without safety planning, crisis intervention, and support services, victims of domestic and sexual violence will often return to their abuser. When victims feel supported and empowered to continue through the criminal justice process, more prosecutions proceed, and more offenders are held accountable for their actions, while victims and their families receive better outcomes.

    "We focus on empowering victims," said Deborah DeBare, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "Facing an abuser in court can be re-traumatizing for victims of violence; they need to know that they are believed and supported in their decisions throughout the process. LEAs play that crucial role for victims and keep us all safer."

    The overall goals of the Law Enforcement Advocate program include working to reduce trauma to victims, helping victims access and understand the criminal justice system, ensure that victims receive appropriate support services, and acting as a resource for both victims and police officers in cases of domestic violence and sexual assault.

    "I would not be here today if it weren’t for the consistent support of my advocates," said Linda, a survivor of domestic violence. "My advocate helped me arrange a safety plan, gave me a safe phone, helped me file a restraining order, and supported me through that difficult and stressful process. I wouldn’t have a life without the advocates who helped me. They saved my life."

    About Day One
    Established as the RI Rape Crisis Center in 1973, Day One is the only agency in Rhode Island organized specifically to deal with issues of sexual assault as a community concern. Day One’s mission is to reduce the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence and to support and advocate for those affected by it. We provide treatment, intervention, education, advocacy, and prevention services to Rhode Islanders of all ages—from preschool children to elder adults. Additionally, we advocate for public policy initiatives and systemic changes that positively impact how Rhode Island families handle sexual abuse cases.For more information, visit www.dayoneri.org.

    About the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    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. 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, visit www.ricadv.org.

    ###

 
  • 11/16/17 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Homicide of Maniriho Nkinamubanzi


    By Vanessa Volz, Executive Director, Sojourner House, and 
    Deborah DeBare, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence 


    [Providence, RI – Thursday, November 16, 2017] Our hearts go out to the family, friends, and community of Maniriho Nkinamubanzi, who was killed in Providence last Friday by her estranged husband, Bosco Tukamuhabwa. We grieve this tragic loss of life and extend our deepest condolences to all who have been impacted by this heinous crime, the fourth domestic violence homicide of 2017.

    Maniriho was a refugee from the Congo, who was working to build a better life for herself and her family in Rhode Island. We are particularly devastated for Maniriho’s four children. No child should ever have to experience the loss of their mother through such tragedy or endure the suffering caused by violence in the home.

    Tukamuhabwa is a known repeat offender, having been arrested for domestic violence against Maniriho as recently as April 2017. At the time of the murder, he was out on bail awaiting trial. Rhode Island must do more to hold dangerous abusers accountable and to determine lethality risk in cases of domestic violence.

    Maniriho and the perpetrator were estranged, and we know that attempting to end an abusive relationship can be one of the most dangerous times for a victim. When a victim leaves, there is a higher risk of escalating violence and homicide as the perpetrator tries to retain power and control over the situation. It is critical that all those making decisions about offenders in the criminal justice system understand the warning signs of lethal domestic violence and are empowered to use that knowledge to protect victims and our communities.

    This tragedy calls on us to recognize that refugees in the United States experience a unique set of challenges as victims of domestic violence. Such challenges may include language barriers, immigration status and fear of deportation, a lack of familiarity with social systems and structures, and fear of maltreatment or discrimination from the police when reporting.1 They may rely on their abuser as the primary English-speaker, the sole provider for the household, or the person who controls access to economic resources. They may experience increased social isolation and feel pressure to maintain a positive image of their community.

    Available research indicates that domestic violence is not more prevalent, and may actually be less prevalent, among refugee and immigrant populations than others. Sadly, there remains an overrepresentation of refugee and immigrant women among domestic violence homicide victims, which may indicate a failure or inadequate response by existing systems.2

    Victims of domestic violence deserve safety and justice. Rhode Island must continue to evaluate and strengthen its response to domestic violence to ensure that no more lives are lost, that no more children experience the tragedy of losing their beloved mother. Each and every one of us must take a stand to say “NO MORE”— because 1 in 4 Rhode Islanders is a victim of abuse. They are our loved ones, neighbors, coworkers, and friends, and they are counting on us.

    1 Runner, M., Yoshihama, M., Novick, S. (March 2009). Intimate Partner Violence in Immigrant and Refugee Communities: Challenges, Promising Practices and Recommendations. A Report by the Family Violence Prevention Fund for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

    2 Ibid.

    How You Can Help: If you are experiencing domestic violence or know someone who is, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour support at 800-494-8100.

    As relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, we can help keep victims safe and prevent another tragedy. Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect that someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources, such as the Helpline (800-494-8100). Additional resources and information can be found at www.ricadv.org.


    About Sojourner House: 
    Sojourner House is a comprehensive domestic violence and sexual assault agency. Founded in 1976, Sojourner House’s mission is to provide culturally sensitive support, advocacy, safety, and respect for victims of domestic abuse, and to effect systems change. Sojourner House is a member of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and provides safe shelter, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, the Providence metro area’s only drop-in advocacy and resource center, Rhode Island’s only shelters for male victims of domestic violence and victims of human trafficking, support and advocacy for children who witness domestic violence, immigration advocacy, free HIV testing and support, and prevention education programs for students. For more information, visit www.sojournerri.org.


    About the RICADV: 
    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provide a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

    ###

  • 6/14/17 - Statement Regarding Today’s Shooting in Virginia


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

    [Providence, RI –Wednesday, June 14, 2017] We were shocked and saddened to learn about the shooting that occurred today near Washington, D.C. in Alexandria, Virginia, when a gunman opened fire on Republican members of Congress, injuring three people and critically wounding two.

    We are particularly disturbed to learn that the perpetrator, James T. Hodgkinson, who later died from his injuries, had a record of domestic violence. In 2006, he was charged with domestic battery and aggravated discharge of a firearm.

    We know that mass shootings and domestic violence are linked. In an analysis of mass shootings from 2009-2016, Everytown for Gun Safety found that a majority of these incidents involve perpetrators of domestic violence. A significant percent of mass shootings start with the abuser’s family and spill over to involve bystanders. However, even when a mass shooting is not specifically a domestic violence shooting, the shooter often has a history of domestic violence.

    In recent years across the country, we have repeatedly seen men who abuse the women in their lives go on to commit heinous acts of violence against the public.We must do more to protect our communities from this type of terror and violence.

    The Protect RI Families Act (S0405 Metts/H5510 Tanzi), which has been in front of the Rhode Island General Assembly for two consecutive years, would close the loopholes that allow dangerous abusers to keep their weapons.

    Federal law prohibits people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors or subject to final domestic abuse protective orders from buying or possessing guns, but there is no mandated system in Rhode Island for these abusers to turn in the guns they own. We urge the General Assembly to take action this year to pass the Protect RI Families Act and prevent future tragedies.

    About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provide a wide array of services for victims, including 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 visit www.ricadv.org.

    ###

  • 5/22/17 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Homicide of Jennifer Silva


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

    [Providence, RI –Monday, May 22, 2017] We are devastated by the domestic violence murder of Jennifer Silva that occurred this past weekend. In the early morning hours of Saturday, May 20, Jennifer died from injuries sustained from an alleged attack by her boyfriend, Allen Hanson.

    We are deeply saddened by this tragic case of domestic violence and extend our heartfelt condolences to all those who have been impacted by this heinous crime.

    Domestic violence murder is rarely an isolated incident, but is often the final act in a pattern of abuse that has escalated over time. Although we cannot comment on the specifics of this case, we do know that Allen Hanson has a history of committing domestic violence crimes. Rhode Island must do more to hold dangerous abusers accountable.

    In order to prevent lethal domestic violence, we must provide our criminal justice system with the necessary tools. There are evidence-informed practices that our state can implement to monitor abusers’ patterns and identify lethality risk factors. Our Coalition continues to advocate for legislation that would enact such measures, including a bill that is currently in front of the General Assembly for the second consecutive year.

    The tragic murder of Jennifer Silva reminds us that domestic violence happens in every Rhode Island city and town. In such a small state, we are all affected by Jennifer’s death; our hearts go out to her loved ones and community.


    How You Can Help: 
    If you are experiencing domestic violence or know someone who is, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour support at 800-494-8100.

    As relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, we can help keep victims safe and prevent another tragedy. Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect that someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources, such as the Helpline (800-494-8100). Additional resources and information can be found at www.ricadv.org.


    About the RICADV: 
    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provide a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

    ###

  • 1/8/17 - Statement Regarding the Arraignment of Elaine Yates


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

    [Providence, RI – Wednesday, January 18, 2017] In 1985, when Elaine Yates and her two daughters disappeared from their Warwick home, no laws against domestic violence existed in Rhode Island. It was not until 1988 that legislation went into effect making domestic violence a crime.

    Prior to 1988, the landscape was much different for someone who was being battered in Rhode Island. Back then, it was not illegal for husbands to abuse their wives, and victims of abuse had no legal recourse. If a woman was being abused, she could not turn to law enforcement or the criminal justice system for help. There were very few options for safety, while crisis services and legal protections were practically nonexistent. It was not uncommon for victims of domestic violence to leave their homes with their children in order to stay safe, often going out of state and even changing their identities to protect themselves and their loved ones. At that time, advocates would often help battered women and their children flee to “underground” shelters, made up of a grassroots network of people’s homes and confidential community spaces. The stark reality was that the potential legal ramifications for victims who fled with their children were far outweighed by the risks and danger they might face if they stayed.

    It is important to recognize that domestic violence does not only affect the primary victim. Abusers often use bystanders, especially loved ones, in order to exert power and control over victims, and the perpetrator may abuse or threaten the victim’s children as a way to control the victim. In addition, children who live in a home where abuse is taking place are often traumatized. Such adverse experiences can cause health and social problems throughout their lifetime, including chronic diseases, substance abuse, dropping out of school, and even early death.1

    Leaving a domestic violence situation is incredibly difficult, as there are many barriers and obstacles. It is also one of the most dangerous times for a victim – while or after they end the abusive relationship. The abuser is losing power and control and will often react in destructive ways, so if a person takes action to leave the home or situation, it is likely that the dangers they face by staying are significant, and the lengths they must go to achieve safety and rebuild their lives would be great.

    Today, the safety net for survivors of domestic violence and their children here in Rhode Island is stronger. Domestic violence is now defined as a crime by law. The criminal justice response is much improved, law enforcement professionals receive training, and the RICADV’s member agencies provide comprehensive services and support for victims and their children. Even still, many victims choose not to contact the police for help,2 and while more safety options exist for those being abused, there are still gaps in the system, particularly around child custody and visitation.

    In 1985, victims faced a significantly bleaker reality. While we cannot comment on the specifics of this case, when there is a history of domestic violence, the choices victims make to keep themselves and their children safe, and the context in which they make these choices, must be not only considered but deeply understood, if we are to build a world where we believe and empower victims, and no longer tolerate domestic violence.

    1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy

    2National Domestic Violence Hotline, Who Will Help Me? Domestic Violence Survivors Speak Out About Law Enforcement Responses. Washington, DC (2015). http://www.thehotline.org/resources/law-enforcement-responses


    How You Can Help: 
    If you are experiencing domestic violence or know someone who is, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour support at 800-494-8100.

    As relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, we can help keep victims safe and prevent a tragedy. Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect that someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources, such as the Helpline (800-494-8100) and the RICADV’s member agencies. Additional resources and information can be found at www.ricadv.org


    About the RICADV: 
    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's local domestic violence agencies provide a wide array of services for victims, including 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.

    ###

Press "Esc" to Quick Escape

A new tab will open and this page will redirect to Google.
X