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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, October 1, 2020

CONTACT: Brittany Ballantyne, communications manager, RICADV; Phone: 401-467-9940;
brittany@ricadv.org; www.ricadv.org

*If you are a member of the media on deadline and are reaching out after hours, please contact the Rhode Island statewide Helpline at 800-494-8100.

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.  

Releases & Statements – 2020
  • Releases

  • Statements

  • 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 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.

    Sincerely,

    Tonya Harris
    Executive Director

    Media Contact:
    Brittany Ballantyne
    Communications Manager
    P: 401-467-9940
    brittany@ricadv.org

    If you are a member of the media on deadline and are reaching out after hours or on a weekend, please contact the Rhode Island statewide Helpline, available 24/7: 1.800.494.8100

  • 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 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.  

    Sincerely,

    Tonya Harris
    Executive Director

    Media Contact:
    Brittany Ballantyne
    Communications Manager
    P: 401-467-9940
    brittany@ricadv.org

    If you are a member of the media on deadline and are reaching out after hours or on a weekend, please contact the Rhode Island statewide Helpline, available 24/7: 1.800.494.8100

  • 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.

    Sincerely,

    Tonya Harris
    Executive Director

    Media Contact:
    Brittany Ballantyne
    Communications Manager
    P: 401-467-9940
    brittany@ricadv.org

    If you are a member of the media on deadline and are reaching out after hours or on a weekend, please contact the Rhode Island statewide Helpline, available 24/7: 1.800.494.8100

  • 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 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.

    Sincerely,

    Tonya Harris
    Executive Director

    Media Contact:
    Brittany Ballantyne
    Communications Manager
    P: 401-467-9940
    brittany@ricadv.org

    If you are a member of the media on deadline and are reaching out after hours or on a weekend, please contact the Rhode Island statewide Helpline, available 24/7: 1.800.494.8100

  • 3/13/2020 - Press release 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 Harris
    Executive Director

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

    Statement regarding the domestic violence homicide of Erika Belcourt

    By Tonya 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 

    Sincerely,

    Tonya Harris
    Executive Director

    Media Contact:
    Brittany Ballantyne
    Communications Manager
    P: 401-467-9940
    brittany@ricadv.org

    If you are a member of the media on deadline and are reaching out after hours or on a weekend, please contact the Rhode Island statewide Helpline, available 24/7: 1.800.494.8100

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

    Statement regarding the domestic violence homicide of Tanya Gagnon

    By Tonya 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.

    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.

    Sincerely,

    Tonya Harris
    Executive Director

    Media Contact:
    Brittany Ballantyne
    Communications Manager
    P: 401-467-9940
    brittany@ricadv.org

    If you are a member of the media on deadline and are reaching out after hours or on a weekend, please contact the Rhode Island statewide Helpline, available 24/7: 1.800.494.8100

  • 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.

    Sincerely,

    Tonya Harris
    Executive Director

    Media Contact:
    Brittany Ballantyne
    Communications Manager
    P: 401-467-9940
    brittany@ricadv.org

    If you are a member of the media on deadline and are reaching out after hours or on a weekend, please contact the Rhode Island statewide Helpline, available 24/7: 1.800.494.8100

  • 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 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.


    ###

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

    Statement regarding domestic violence homicide of Vincent A. Sebastian

    By Tonya 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 https://www.dvrcsc.org/.

    ###

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

    Statement regarding domestic violence homicide of Cheryl Smith

    By Tonya 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

  • 11/04/19 - 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 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.

  • 06/13/19 - 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 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.

  • 08/25/19- Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Murder of Berta Hudson

    By Tonya 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 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.

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  • 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 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.

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

    By Tonya 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.

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

    By Tonya 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.

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

    By Tonya 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.

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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.

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

    [Warwick, RI – October 12, 2018] – The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) Board of Directors and staff welcome Tonya 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.

    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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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, DC 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.

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Releases & Statements – 2016
  • Releases

  • Statements

  • 12/20/16 - Letter to the Editor: Murder of Claire Randall was a tragic result of domestic violence

    LETTER TO THE EDITOR

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, December 20, 2016

    When I heard the news about Claire Randall’s death, my first thought was, “That could’ve been one of my own children.” Claire was a 27-year-old Rhode Island native who was murdered by her father before he took his own life on December 8, 2016 in Maine. As a survivor of domestic violence and member of Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR), a task force of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, my heart aches at the news of an innocent life lost to domestic violence.  

    Through my work with SOAR, I’ve learned that the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence is when she is leaving the relationship. At the time when I wanted to end my abusive relationship, I was too afraid to even tell my abuser in person – I wrote a letter and then waited for the backlash. My abuser had already killed one of my dogs and almost killed my other dog, and I was afraid he would do something to hurt my children or me. Like many abusers, he acted in ways that clearly told me, “If you don’t want to be with me, then I’m going to take something that hurts you the most.”

    Knowing what I do about the dynamics of domestic violence, it seems likely that Daniel Randall killed his daughter to punish a woman he felt entitled to, over whom he was losing power and control. By writing “Anita, it’s all your fault” on the wall, he gave us a glimpse into the warped thought process of an abuser. Domestic violence is never the victim’s fault. I do not claim to know the details of the Randalls’ private lives, but I do know the signs of abuse. I know that domestic violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, in any profession, and it can be perpetrated by anyone, even a pastor. In every domestic violence situation where children are present, they are hurt in some way; in this case, a beloved daughter was tragically killed.

    By all accounts, Claire was a beautiful, brilliant, talented light in a world that can be full of darkness. She gave her time and energy to helping victims of domestic violence and people struggling with substance abuse. She was doing what she could to make this world a better place, and we are all worse off for her loss. Mother to mother, I extend my deepest condolences to Anita Randall. Anita, we are with you.

    We all need to learn the warning signs of domestic abuse, call it by its name, and denounce it when we see it. Claire deserved better. We all do.

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

  • 10/17/16 - The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence issues Request for Proposals for programs that aim to prevent domestic violence before it starts


    Through the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund, $180,000 will be distributed to support local programs that aim to prevent domestic and dating violence

    [Tuesday, October 17, 2016 – Warwick, RI] Rhode Island is taking a big step towards preventing domestic violence, as the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) begins accepting proposals for short- and long-term programs aimed at stopping intimate partner violence before it starts. 

    Thanks to the newly established Domestic Violence Prevention Fund, which was signed into law earlier this year by Governor Gina M. Raimondo, the RICADV will be distributing $180,000 annually to support evidence-informed domestic violence primary prevention programs in Rhode Island. 

    “We are broadening the focus of our work to include domestic violence primary prevention, and investing in long-term strategies to change the social norms that condone domestic violence,” said Deborah DeBare, Executive Director at RICADV. “Supporting both short- and long-term initiatives will enable us to reach diverse communities and populations throughout Rhode Island.” 

    In total, $180,000 in grant funding will be distributed annually. The funding will include two to three Implementation Project awards ranging from $50,000 to $60,000 per year, as well as a number of one-time Community Micro-grants ranging from $1,000 to $15,000. Implementation Project awards will begin January 1, 2017, with the option of renewing for two additional 12-month periods pending availability of funds and each awardee’s performance. Community Micro-grants will support short-term projects that will be completed within 12 months of being awarded.

    “Prevention strategies have worked for other public health issues,” said Lucy Rios, Director of Prevention and Communications at RICADV. “Take a look at smoking – 40 years ago it was the cultural norm to smoke, even around kids. After implementing prevention strategies such as increasing the cost of tobacco products, passing smoke-free laws, and promoting strong anti-smoking messages, the rate of smoking has dropped from 42% to around 15%. We can use similar strategies to prevent domestic violence.”

    Strategies to prevent domestic violence can vary widely in their approach, but priority will be given to proposals that focus on changing systems, policies, social and cultural norms, and community conditions that allow domestic and dating violence to occur. Because they are disproportionally impacted, priority will be given to proposals that focus on girls and boys of color and LGBTQ and Two-Spirit youth. 

    “We know that connected communities experience less domestic violence,” said Rios. “So one example of a primary prevention program could be a series of movie nights that create an opportunity for neighbors to get to know and trust each other. Others could include working in schools to change gender norms, or creating ‘youth empowerment zones’ that help kids build leadership skills. Even building a bike path, putting up a playground, or painting a community mural could be examples of primary prevention. They might seem unrelated, but improving how we live, learn, work, and play can prevent domestic violence, as well as enhance our overall health and wellness.”

    Public and not-for-profit community-based organizations, faith institutions, and Rhode Island middle schools and high schools are eligible to apply for DVPF Implementation Projects and Community Micro-grants. Only established 501(c)(3) organizations that have been operating for at least 2 years will be considered. Community groups and associations that are not 501(c)(3) can use a local fiscal agent to apply. 

    “This huge step toward ending domestic and dating violence in Rhode Island would not be possible without the sponsors and champions of the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund,” said DeBare. “Governor Raimondo, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, House Speaker Nick Mattiello, Senator Maryellen Goodwin, Rep. Chris Blazejewski, former State Rep. Elaine Coderre, and Ann Burke, the co-founder of the Lindsay Ann Burke Memorial Fund, were instrumental in getting this legislation passed. Their passion and commitment will improve the lives of countless Rhode Islanders.”

    Applications for both Implementation Project awards and Community Micro-grants must be received by 3:00 P.M. on November 30, 2016. Applications should be emailed in PDF format to Lucy Rios, Director of Prevention & Communications, at lucy@ricadv.org. An informational technical assistance call for all potential applicants will be held by RICADV staff at 11:00 a.m. on November 2, 2016. More information can be found on RICADV’s website at www.ricadv.org/dvpf.

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  • 9/30/16 - Letter to the Editor: October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

    LETTER TO THE EDITOR
     
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, September 30, 2016
     

    The month of October brings many traditions to Rhode Island: hay rides, pumpkin carving, and apple picking, among others. It also marks National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, honoring the 1 in 8 women who will develop the illness in their lifetime.

    Many do not realize that October is also the national awareness month for a less frequently discussed, but equally important, public health issue: domestic violence.

    1 in 4 Rhode Islanders will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. In fact, 1 in 10 Rhode Island high schoolers report that they have already experienced physical dating violence. Because RI communities are so close-knit, we have all witnessed the suffering caused by domestic violence, or know someone who has.

    In 2016, seven lives have been lost to domestic violence murders in Rhode Island. Even when domestic violence does not escalate to homicide, abusive relationships are harming our neighbors, family members, friends, and coworkers.

    This October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), we must all take a stand, because we each have a role to play. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. As a community, we can help to create a Rhode Island where domestic violence is no longer tolerated, to raise awareness of the issue and explore ways in which we can all work together to prevent it.

    There are many ways to get involved this October. Attend one of the many events throughout Rhode Island that have been organized to raise awareness and support victims and survivors of domestic violence. Like and share content online to show that you say “NO MORE” to domestic violence. Speak with your family and friends about healthy relationships and warning signs of abuse.

    If each one of us makes a commitment this October to say or do something to help end domestic violence, just think about the collective impact we can have. Imagine the change we can be in the world. Visit www.nomoreri.org and follow the RICADV on Facebook to learn more about how you can help build a safer, more peaceful Rhode Island.

    Sincerely,

    Deborah DeBare
    Executive Director
    Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

     
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  • 6/2/16 - Letter to the Editor: Community Service Grants are Vital to Rhode Islanders

    LETTER TO THE EDITOR
     
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 2, 2016
     
    There has been a great deal of press during the past few weeks about the Community Service Grant program, and we feel that it is imperative to offer our perspective. These grants are used to provide critical services to our neediest Rhode Islanders. The funding received by our respective agencies is essential to continuing these services to the Rhode Island community. Collectively, over the past year, these grants have had enormous impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders:
     
    The Rhode Island Community Food Bank assisted 60,000 people per month providing food for families in need.
     
    Crossroads Rhode Island helped 3,000 people experiencing homelessness with housing, basic needs, case management, employment training and supportive services.
     
    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and its member agencies provided court advocacy, shelter, safety planning, advocacy and counseling to 8,934 victims of domestic violence and responded to over 18,800 calls for help and information.
     
    Day One provided outreach and services addressing sexual assault and trafficking to over 7,000 Rhode Islanders.
     
    Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island assisted 2,400 immigrants and refugees with applying for citizenship, obtaining or maintaining their legal permanent resident status, work authorization, and other humanitarian relief, provided free walk-in immigration consultations to 3,800 individuals, and provided 1,250 people with contextualized workforce training, English as a Second Language, and family literacy classes.
     
    The United Way assisted 1,600 children, leveraging an additional $450,000 in private funding to ensure children can access summer programs that increase their learning over the summer.
     
    All of these services are vital to stabilizing lives and removing barriers in our state so that people can recover, heal, eat, sleep, work and move toward empowering their lives. These organizations, and many others that receive community service grants, rely on this funding for core services.
     
    We are grateful that this funding exists; we urge the legislature to continue providing these grants; and we welcome any additional measures necessary for transparency and accountability.
     
     
    Sincerely,

    Karen A. Santilli, President & CEO, Crossroads Rhode Island
    Peg Langhammer, Executive Director, Day One
    Kathleen Cloutier, Executive Director, Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island
    Deborah DeBare, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    Andrew Schiff, CEO, Rhode Island Community Food Bank
    Anthony Maione, President & CEO, United Way of Rhode Island

     
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  • 5/26/16 - Op-Ed: It's time to make the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund a reality for Rhode Island

    OP-ED
     
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, May 26, 2016
     
    Already in 2016, four Rhode Islanders have been killed in domestic violence homicides. In the last ten years, 54 lives were lost to domestic violence murders in Rhode Island. These tragedies are all the more abhorrent because we know domestic violence homicides do not come out of nowhere–they often stem from a longstanding pattern of abuse that can rapidly escalate to murder. If there are steps we can take to save even one life, shouldn’t we?
     
    But Rhode Island is failing, and falling behind. Domestic violence is preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), yet currently we have no state funding dedicated to domestic violence prevention!
     
    Even when domestic violence does not escalate to homicide, it is hurting our loved ones and threatening our communities—between 8,000 and 10,000 victims of domestic violence and their children receive services each year. The Rhode Island General Assembly must respond to this public health crisis. When people are suffering and dying here in our own state, inaction is simply not an option.
     
    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) and its member agencies are leading the charge nationally with innovative approaches to prevent intimate partner violence. Now is the time for the General Assembly to stand behind this pioneering work and fund evidence-substantiated strategies that can reduce the rates of domestic violence in our state.
     
    For four years in a row, the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund legislation (S2900 Goodwin / H7683 Blazejewski) has been in front of the General Assembly. Each year the bill has been submitted, it has overwhelmingly passed in the Senate but never had a vote in the House of Representatives.
     
    This past week, the Senate again took a major step forward by passing this important legislation. The House now has a powerful opportunity to save lives, but the window to take action is coming to a close. With less than a month left in the 2016 legislative session, Rhode Island families are looking to their Representatives in the House to protect them and their loved ones and to safeguard our state’s future.
     
    In the long-term, investing in domestic violence prevention will save lives—perhaps even the life of someone you know. Now is the time to make the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund a reality for Rhode Island. It’s the right thing to do.
     
    Deborah DeBare is the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence.
     
     
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  • 3/16/16 - RI House Judiciary Committee Holds Hearings on Recommendations to Prevent Domestic Violence Homicides


    In February, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence released a report detailing the 54 domestic violence homicides in Rhode Island over the last ten years

    On Wednesday, March 16, 2016, the House Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on two of the recommendations from the report that will impact Rhode Island’s ability to reduce rates of domestic violence and prevent future domestic violence homicides

    [Providence, RI – March 16, 2016] Rhode Island lost 54 lives to domestic violence homicides within the past 10 years. In the first two months of 2016, there have already been two more Rhode Islanders murdered by their abusers. Domestic violence homicides do not come out of nowhere – they begin as a pattern of domestic violence that escalates to murder. The Rhode Island General Assembly must take these murders seriously and realize that as lawmakers, they have the power and the responsibility to act to prevent future domestic violence homicides.

    Today, March 16, 2016, the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee is holding hearings on two bills that will help prevent domestic violence homicides in Rhode Island. These bills would establish a much-needed fund for the prevention of domestic violence and update Rhode Island’s outdated stalking law.

    House Bill 7683 would establish a domestic violence prevention fund in Rhode Island. This is the fourth year that the bill has been submitted, and though it has passed unanimously in the Senate, it has repeatedly stalled in the House. This year, the bill is again being introduced in the House by Rep. Chris Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence).

    The Domestic Violence Prevention Fund is essential to stopping the pattern of domestic violence before it begins. If passed, the bill would – for the first time – create a steady stream of state funding for domestic violence prevention programs. These resources would help alleviate the burden on local agencies born out of the consistent, comprehensive cuts to federal and state funding, which have limited their ability to invest in prevention.

    “The funds generated by the passing of this bill into law would be used to stop domestic before it starts. Crisis intervention services provide invaluable lifelines to those impacted by domestic violence. We must continue to supply them, and we must also focus on primary prevention if we wish to end domestic violence,” said Deborah DeBare, executive director of the RICADV.

    Nearly 10,000 Rhode Islanders sought multiple crisis services for domestic violence in 2015, and seven lives were lost to domestic violence homicide. Allocating state funds to prevention programming is not optional; it is imperative.

    House Bill 7797 – updating Rhode Island’s stalking law – also has the potential to save lives by stopping the cycle of violence before it escalates to homicide. The RICADV’s Domestic Violence Homicides in Rhode Island, 2006-2015 report, released on February 25 of this year, noted that “many of the intimate partner homicide incidents shared common elements that are known to indicate a heightened risk of homicide. In 14 of the 41 cases, there were indications that the perpetrator had been stalking the victim before the homicide.” Because stalking is an underreported crime, the actual stalking occurrences for this group of homicide victims was likely much higher.

    Nationally, 76% of women who were murdered by their intimate partners had been stalked by their killer prior to the murder – even more than those who had been physically assaulted by the perpetrator prior to the homicide. Stronger stalking laws can end the course of stalking and stop the perpetrator before the violence escalates to homicide.

    Rhode Island’s current stalking law was passed in the 1990s, based on the national model stalking code from 1993. However, in 2006, the national model code was updated based on a better understanding of the patterns and dangers of stalking. Rhode Island must update its law to be in line with the new recommendations.

    Domestic violence stalking victims have a particularly difficult time receiving protection under the current law, because prosecutors have to prove that the stalker’s specific goal was to scare the victim. In cases where there was previously a relationship, many stalkers will avoid being held accountable for their actions by claiming they were just trying to “work things out” or “get back together.” Leaving this loophole in the law is putting victims at risk; Rhode Island must do better.

    Introduced in the House by Rep. Patricia Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, and Warwick), House Bill 7797 will align Rhode Island’s stalking law with the rest of the nation and protect victims while holding abusers and stalkers accountable for their actions. A companion bill (Senate 270S) has been introduced by Sen. Donna Nesslebush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence).

    The Legislature owes it to Rhode Island communities and families to implement these changes now to protect victims, stop domestic violence homicides, and protect Rhode Island’s future. Together, we can end domestic violence.

    To view the report, visit www.ricadv.org. To request a hard copy, contact the RICADV at 401-467-9940.

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  • 2/25/16 - The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence Releases New Report: Domestic Violence Homicides in Rhode Island, 2006-2015


    This first-of-its-kind report for the State of Rhode Island analyzes data from the past 10 years, identifying trends and proposing recommendations for the prevention of domestic violence homicides

    [Providence, RI – February 25, 2016] Today, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) released Domestic Violence Homicides in Rhode Island, 2006-2015, a first-of-its-kind report for the State of Rhode Island. The report contains key findings, homicide incident descriptions, and recommendations for preventing future domestic violence homicides in Rhode Island.

    On Thursday, February 25, the RICADV held a press conference at the State House to announce the report’s release. Speakers included Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin; Jami Ouellette, the sister of a victim of a 2012 domestic violence homicide; Ann Burke, the mother of a victim of a 2005 domestic violence homicide and co-founder of the Lindsay Ann Burke Memorial Fund; and Deborah DeBare, executive director of the RICADV.

    “We have published this report in honor of the lives of those who were taken from us too soon at the hands of violent abusers, as well as the victims' surviving family members and friends who must now cope with the aftermath of these tragedies. Our hearts are with the families and friends who have lost their loved ones,” said DeBare.

    During the past ten years, from 2006 to 2015, 54 people lost their lives to domestic violence homicides in Rhode Island over the course of 48 incidents. Between three and nine homicide incidents occurred each year. By analyzing the collective data from these cases, the RICADV has identified trends and patterns that paint the big picture of domestic violence in Rhode Island.

    Key findings from the report include the following:

    Domestic violence homicide is a violence against women issue. Overwhelmingly, the victims in this report were women killed by men. Of the 45 victims killed in intimate partner homicide incidents, 34 (or 76%) were female intimate partners of a male perpetrator. Violence against women led to the murders of men as well—of the 7 men in the report who lost their lives in intimate partner homicide incidents, 4 of them were killed when they were bystanders to an attack on a woman by her male intimate partner.

    Guns and domestic violence continue to be a deadly combination. While a significant number of intimate partner homicide victims lost their lives as a result of stabbing, guns were the most commonly used weapons in these homicides. Firearms made already violent situations more deadly, increasing the likelihood that more people would be killed; though comparable numbers of incidents involved firearms and stabbing, considerably more victims were killed with firearms than by stabbing. In every incident where a bystander was killed, a gun was used.

    Many of the intimate partner homicide incidents shared common elements that are known to indicate a heightened risk of homicide. In 14 of the 41 cases, there were indications that the perpetrator had been stalking the victim before the homicide. Twenty of the 41 perpetrators had been arrested for domestic violence in the past. In 22 of the 41 cases, there was evidence that the victim had already left, or was planning to leave, the abusive relationship when the homicide occurred.

    The report also includes recommendations by the RICADV that are based on best practices in the field and evidence-substantiated ways to prevent domestic violence homicides.

    The five recommendations are as follows:

    1. Rhode Island must continue to invest in a coordinated community response to domestic violence and foster collaboration between and among law enforcement, courts, and victim advocates.

    2. The State of Rhode Island must implement dangerousness assessments and screen all domestic violence criminal cases for lethality risk factors.

    3. Rhode Island must pass legislation to prohibit convicted domestic violence perpetrators and perpetrators subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing guns.

    4. Rhode Island must pass legislation to strengthen the state’s current laws against stalking and consistently enforce protective orders.

    5. Rhode Island must take steps to stop domestic violence before it happens in the first place and establish a fund that will support evidence-substantiated public health approaches to the primary prevention of domestic violence.


    Rhode Island cannot afford another deadly year of domestic violence. Last year, seven lives were lost to domestic violence homicides. Already in 2016, two more Rhode Islanders have been murdered at the hands of their abusers. In the devastating wake of these tragedies, there are steps Rhode Island can and must take to protect victims of domestic violence, hold abusers accountable, and, ultimately, save lives.

    To download Domestic Violence Homicides in Rhode Island, 2006-2015, visit www.ricadv.org. To request a hard copy, contact the RICADV at 401-467-9940.

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  • 1/28/16 - Rhode Island Youth Invited to Enter Lip Sync Video Contest to Help End Dating Violence


    During February, national Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence is launching a statewide Lip Sync Video Contest

    [Warwick, RI - January 28, 2016] Thanks to Jimmy Fallon, lip sync contests have become increasingly popular on television and online. This February, during national Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, teenagers and young adults between the ages of 12 and 24 who live in Rhode Island are invited to enter a Lip Sync Video Contest to promote awareness and help end dating violence.

    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is sponsoring the Lip Sync Video Contest to encourage young people and the adults in their lives to have conversations about healthy relationships, positive and empowering messages, dating violence, and more.

    “Every day our youth are being exposed to all types of media,” said Jasmine Torres, Community Education and Prevention Coordinator at the Women’s Center of Rhode Island, one of the RICADV’s six member agencies. “Teens and parents are likely to recognize songs with overtly misogynistic, angry, or violent messages. But current popular songs about love have messages that can be harder to identify as obsessive or unhealthy – like ‘I can’t live without you’ or ‘you can never get away from me.’ It might seem romantic, but that type of behavior is controlling and may actually be a sign of dating violence.”

    Young people and the adults in their lives can use the contest as an opportunity to analyze media. Consciously examining songs and their messages can help spark important discussions that will pave the way for further communication throughout the teen and young adult years.

    “Media literacy is a known protective factor against a wide variety of negative health outcomes,” said Deborah DeBare, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “By empowering young people with a better understanding of the media, we can help reduce high risk behaviors and susceptibility to violence.”

    “We know that unhealthy behavior in relationships begins even before middle school,” said Torres. “Teens need the vocabulary and experience to talk about what’s healthy and what’s not in relationships. They need to know that they have trusted adults they can turn to if they or a friend is experiencing dating violence. This Lip Sync Video Contest is a perfect opportunity to connect and talk about some of these issues – plus, it’s fun!”

    Contest rules and judging criteria include:

    • Videos should be 3 minutes or less in length and must feature a person or people lip syncing to one or more songs.
    • The person submitting the video entry must be a Rhode Island resident and must be between the ages of 12 and 24.
    • Each entry will be judged on creativity, stage presence, and choreography.
    • Each song choice should have messages of empowerment, peace, hope, respect, and/or healthy relationships.
    • Bonus points will be awarded for including the RICADV’s public awareness campaign slogan “Get Off the Bench!” and using the hashtags #NoMoreRI or #GetOffTheBench in a creative way.

    The involvement of positive role models in young people’s lives can have a huge impact, so bonus points will also be awarded for including a trusted adult in the video, whether a coach, teacher, parent, or other family member.

    “Our gym teacher, Ms. Maguire, is a big advocate for learning about dating violence,” said Katarina Ho, a Junior at North Kingstown High School and a student intern at the RICADV. “She is one of the reasons I became interested in volunteering with the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. My soccer coach, Coach D’Arezzo, was another.”

    Mark D’Arezzo, Head Coach of the North Kingstown Girls Soccer Team, encouraged his players to get involved in the contest. A group of the athletes created a promotional video for the RICADV, lip syncing to the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

    “I tell my daughter, as well as my soccer players, that they have the right to feel safe and respected in all of their relationships, and they can be strong, assertive, and stand up for themselves – both on and off the field,” said D’Arezzo. “They had the opportunity to do just that with this video, and I’m really proud of them for getting involved!”

    The RICADV will be awarding 3 cash prizes. One Grand Prize winner will be awarded $500; a First Runner-Up will be awarded $250; and a “People’s Choice” winner – determined by votes on the RICADV’s Facebook page – will win $250.

    Contest entries will be accepted from Monday, February 1, 2016 at 8:00AM to Monday, February 29, 2016 at 5:00PM. Entries will be accepted via email. Submit videos and send any questions about the contest or appropriate song choice to kate@ricadv.org.

    Official rules, judging criteria, and contest flyers can be found on the RICADV’s website.

    The RICADV will post all official contest entries on the “Lip Sync Video Contest” playlist on the RICADV’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ricadv). Contest participants are encouraged to share the RICADV’s official contest entry Facebook posts and invite their followers to visit the RICADV’s Facebook page to vote.


    Video Link – North Kingstown High School Girls Soccer Team Promotional Lip Sync Video
    https://www.facebook.com/ricadv/videos

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  • 8/2/16 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Homicide of Andres Arguijo Acosta


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

     
    [Providence, RI – Tuesday, August 2, 2016] We were deeply saddened to learn about the homicide of Andres Arguijo Acosta, a 33-year-old Providence man who was murdered by his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend on Saturday morning. Our sympathies go out to his family and friends, especially his girlfriend and his three children. Andres’ death is the seventh domestic violence murder in Rhode Island in 2016, and the second in as many days in Providence.
     
    Rhode Island law only recognizes domestic violence in crimes that occur between those directly involved in an abusive relationship, but the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence tracks any homicide incident where domestic violence leads to the loss of life in Rhode Island communities, including cases in which bystanders and children are killed.
     
    It is important to recognize that abuse does not only affect the victim; abusers often target bystanders – especially family members, pets, or new dating partners – in order to exert power and control over their victim. Harming or killing someone who is loved by the victim is domestic violence. There is no way around this fact, and we cannot hold back on calling this horrific act what it is – a domestic violence murder.
     
    Andres’ death is the second domestic violence murder of a bystander in 2016. In Providence on July 3, 2016, Cesar Alonzo was killed by his wife’s ex-boyfriend. In fact, between 2006 and 2015, six of the 54 victims killed in domestic violence homicide incidents in Rhode Island were bystanders (11%). Only eight months into this year, two of the seven people lost to domestic violence homicide have been bystanders. We must recognize and call out domestic violence when we see it occurring if we ever hope to stop it.
     
    As Rhode Islanders, we each have a part to play in naming domestic violence, knowing the warning signs, supporting those impacted by abuse, and finding ways to safely intervene. In the wake of this tragedy, we must take a stand and say NO MORE—not one more life. Together, we can prevent and end domestic violence.
     
     
    How You Can Help:
    The murder of Andres Arguijo-Acosta is a tragic reminder that domestic violence happens every day, and that victims are not the only ones impacted by abuse. 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.

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  • 8/1/16 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Homicide of MaryJo Osgood


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

    [Providence, RI – Monday, August 1, 2016] Our hearts go out to the family and friends of MaryJo Osgood, who was fatally shot by her husband, Franklin Osgood, over the weekend before he took his own life. MaryJo’s death marks the sixth domestic violence homicide in Rhode Island in 2016.

    In a high-profile case such as this one, a lot of speculation is focused on the perpetrator–his employment as a police officer, his emotional health, his motive–while the experience of the victim is minimized and her death objectified. But we know that MaryJo Osgood was more than who she married or the way she died. MaryJo was a beloved mother, grandmother, sister, colleague, and friend. She will be missed dearly by those who knew her; let us not forget her.

    Let us also be sure to call murder-suicides what they are: the ultimate act of domestic violence.

    Unfortunately, when an abuser murders his partner, the tragedy is often incorrectly portrayed as the result of “domestic strife,” or in response to the perpetrator “being deeply troubled,” or the abuser is said to “have snapped” in response to a situation.

    This tragedy reminds us that even when there is not an official police record of domestic violence, or the perpetrator appears to outsiders to be a “nice guy,” abuse can exist. Usually, there are signs. Domestic violence consists of a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviors which escalate over time. Victims often experience months or years of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse at the hands of their intimate partner without ever calling the police.

    Domestic violence is always a terrible crime, and victims of a police officer are particularly vulnerable because the officer–or in this case, former officer–is able to manipulate the systems or exert influence or use intimidation tactics to avoid penalty and/or shift blame to the victim. Victims or bystanders are often unwilling or unable to report signs of abuse when a person in a position of power is the abuser. In addition, responding officers may be reluctant to believe that working partner or friend is a batterer. This can create a unique and difficult situation for victims.

    This tragedy also reminds us that anyone can be a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence regardless of socio-economic, ethnic, racial, gender identity, sexual orientation, educational background, or profession. Domestic violence happens in every community and no one is immune to it. And because we cannot hold the batterer accountable in domestic violence murder-suicide cases, we must hold ourselves accountable as a community.

    As Rhode Islanders, we each have a part to play in naming domestic violence, knowing the warning signs, supporting those impacted by abuse, and finding ways to safely intervene. In the wake of this tragedy, we must take a stand and say NO MORE—not one more life. Together, we can prevent and end domestic violence.

    How You Can Help:

    The murder of MaryJo Osgood is a tragic reminder that domestic violence happens every day behind closed doors. 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.

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  • 7/6/16 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Homicide of Cesar Alonzo


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


    [Warwick, RI – Wednesday, July 6, 2016] We are deeply saddened by the loss of life that occurred in Providence this past weekend. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family, friends, and community of Cesar Alonzo, who was killed by his wife’s ex-boyfriend, Axel Morales. Alonzo’s wife, Karla Estrada, was injured but survived.

    This incident marks the fifth domestic violence homicide to occur in Rhode Island in 2016. 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 tracks any homicide incident where domestic violence leads to the loss of life in Rhode Island communities, including cases in which bystanders and children are killed.

    As this tragedy shows, the dynamics of domestic violence can continue even after the partners have separated, and those directly involved are not the only people who can be endangered. Between 2006 and 2015, six of the 54 victims killed in domestic violence homicide incidents in Rhode Island were bystanders (11%).

    Domestic violence does not exist in a vacuum of victims, perpetrators, police, and courtrooms. It exists in our communities, where we all live and work, where our children learn and play. Domestic violence is happening every day, in every city and town in Rhode Island; even when it does not reach the criminal justice system, it involves our family members, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

    As Rhode Islanders, we each have a part to play in naming domestic violence, knowing the warning signs, supporting those impacted by abuse, and finding ways to safely intervene. In the wake of this tragedy, we must take a stand and say NO MORE—not one more life. Together, we can prevent and end domestic violence.

    How You Can Help:

    Domestic violence happens every day in every Rhode Island community. 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 family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, we can help 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 experiencing 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.

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  • 5/17/16 - Statement Regarding the Fourth Domestic Violence Homicide of 2016


    By Deborah DeBare, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Lori N. DiPersio, Executive Director, Women’s Resource Center


    [Warwick, RI – Tuesday, May 17, 2016] We are deeply saddened to learn about yet another life lost to domestic violence in our state. Last night in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, Lisa Almeida-Laureanno shot and killed her husband, Manuel Laureanno. We extend our heartfelt condolences to everyone who has been impacted by this tragedy, which marks the fourth domestic violence homicide to occur in Rhode Island so far in 2016. It is a stark reminder that domestic violence continues to take a toll on our communities and that our state must take steps to prevent future homicides.

    While details of the incident have not yet been released, Portsmouth Police have reported that they had responded in the past to domestic violence at the address where the homicide occurred. According to the Rhode Island Judiciary website, Mr. Laureanno had been charged with domestic violence crimes in Portsmouth at least three times since 2000, including the 2009 incident mentioned by the police, where they identified Ms. Almeida-Laureanno as the victim. Ms. Almeida-Laureanno is now charged with the domestic homicide of her husband.

    While we cannot comment on the specifics of this particular case, we know that the victim had a documented history of domestic violence, and it is important for us to remember that domestic violence homicides do not come out of nowhere. Often, they are the culmination of a long pattern of abusive, controlling behaviors used by an abuser against their intimate partner; in many cases, homicide is the final act of abuse against that partner.

    In some cases, however, the homicide is committed by the battered partner against their abuser. The latter is especially common in cases where men with a documented history of abuse are killed by their female partners. For example, a 2005 New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision study found that 67% of women sent to prison for killing someone close to them had been abused by the person they killed. For more information, see the National Clearinghouse on the Defense of Battered Women (http://ncdbw.org/) or the Battered Women’s Justice Project (http://www.bwjp.org/).

    Within the last ten years, 54 domestic violence homicides have occurred in Rhode Island, as documented in our recent report, Domestic Violence Homicides in Rhode Island: 2006-2015. Now, so far in 2016, four more domestic violence homicides have occurred in our state.

    The report’s recommendations for preventing future homicides in Rhode Island closely informed our 2016 legislative priority, the Homicide Prevention Plan. The plan includes bills that would establish dedicated state funding for domestic violence prevention, implement risk assessments for those arrested for domestic violence, keep guns out of the hands of convicted abusers, and update our state’s stalking laws.

    In the wake of this tragedy, we continue to call on Rhode Islanders and the General Assembly to take domestic violence seriously, and for our legislature to take these significant steps to prevent domestic violence homicides in our state. All Rhode Islanders deserve to live lives free from violence. Our state can do more to protect victims of domestic violence and save lives.

    How You Can Help:

    Domestic violence happens every day in every community in Rhode Island. If you are experiencing domestic violence or know someone who is, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for confidential 24-hour support at 800-494-8100.

    The six local domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island provide a wide array of services for victims of domestic violence and their children, including emergency shelter, support groups, and assistance with the legal system. Additional resources and information can be found at www.ricadv.org. Rhode Islanders are urged to call 911 immediately if they see someone being hurt.

    ###

  • 2/19/16 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Homicide of Maria Cecilia Velasquez Palacio


    By Deborah DeBare, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Linda Impagliazzo, Executive Director, Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center

    [Providence, RI – Friday, February 19, 2016] We are devastated by the domestic violence murder of Maria Cecilia Velasquez Palacio. On February 11, Palacio was stabbed to death by her husband, Ariel Alonzo Montoya, in their Pawtucket apartment, with the couple’s adult son home at the time of the attack. Montoya murdered Palacio and killed the family’s dog before killing himself. 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.

    One week before the murder occurred, Palacio reported to Pawtucket police that her husband was threatening her, had been abusive toward her in the past, and that she was afraid. Domestic violence can escalate quickly, and tragically in this case, the violence rapidly escalated to the point of homicide. We commend the Pawtucket Police Department for taking this situation seriously, immediately recognizing it as a case of domestic violence, and working with the Law Enforcement Advocate from Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center to follow up with the victim multiple times through various means. Palacio went to the police in an attempt to break the cycle of violence she was experiencing, but communication following her initial contact collapsed.

    Palacio had reportedly moved out of the apartment she shared with Montoya, and we know that the time period after a victim leaves or attempts to leave their abuser is very dangerous. People who perpetrate domestic violence do so to exert power and control over their victims; when a victim leaves or attempts to leave, there is a higher risk of escalating violence as the perpetrator tries to retain power and control over the situation. Homicide risk is most elevated shortly after a victim leaves the abusive relationship—one study shows that 49% of intimate partner homicides of female partners occurred within two months of separation.1

    When victims of domestic violence are so moved by fear to seek protection from law enforcement, those involved want to do everything they can to help. In some situations, law enforcement may be able to see that a domestic violence situation is dangerous but do not have the tools they need to hold the abuser accountable. Rhode Island must take steps that we know will save lives, such as implementing ways to monitor abusers’ patterns and track lethality risk factors in order to identify when an abuser’s violence is escalating.

    In the wake of this horrendous crime, the second domestic violence homicide in 2016, our state can and must do more to protect victims of domestic violence and prevent future tragedies—before we lose yet another loved one, friend, and community member to domestic violence.

    1Hotton, T. (2001). Spousal violence after separation. Juristat, 21(7), 1-19.

    How You Can Help:

    The murder of Maria Cecilia Velasquez Palacio is a tragic reminder that domestic violence happens every day behind closed doors. 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.

    ###

Releases & Statements – 2015
  • Releases

  • Statements

  • 11/24/15 - Deborah DeBare Recognized for 20 Years of Service as Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence


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

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

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

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

    In the early 1980s, many people considered domestic violence to be a family issue that mainly affected battered wives, and few laws existed to address the problem. Women were told to “go home and be better wives,” while violence impacting men, dating partners, the elderly, and others was not considered domestic violence.

    It was not until 1994, when Deborah DeBare was serving as the Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County (at that time, the Women’s Resource Center of South County), when Congress first passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This landmark federal legislation has had an enormous impact; it has strengthened stalking penalties, added protections for victims, enhanced domestic violence investigations and prosecutions, and provided funding for domestic violence programs.

    “Attitudes have transformed so much over the last 20 years,” reflected DeBare. “When I first became involved in the work to end domestic violence, healthcare and law enforcement professionals did not know how to respond to violence in the home. Even if they wanted to do something, they often didn’t have the necessary tools. Many reporters at that time would call domestic violence incidents ‘lovers’ quarrels.’ People acted as though violence between loved ones was a normal part of a relationship.”

    In 1995, when DeBare was named Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, she was determined to change that. She quickly recognized that in order to end domestic violence, more work had to be done to change prevailing cultural norms. She prioritized the work of the RICADV to focus on legislative policy, community outreach (particularly involving survivors of domestic violence), public awareness, and media advocacy. She has encouraged the RICADV and its member agencies to become leaders in domestic violence prevention.

    These emphases have created substantial change in Rhode Island. Some of the major accomplishments during DeBare’s tenure include the following:

    • In 1996, a statewide toll-free Helpline was established to provide crisis intervention, support, information, and referrals to victims of crime throughout Rhode Island.
    • After working for many years with the state legislature to strengthen restraining order laws and keep guns away from abusers, the Homicide Prevention Law was passed in Rhode Island in 2005, providing victims increased safety from gun violence.
    • In 2006, the RICADV passed stalking legislation so that victims of stalking and cyberstalking can obtain protective orders against their abusers, which extend to victims’ minor children.
    • In 2012, legislation passed that elevated the dangerous crime of strangulation to a felony level.
    • In 2012, Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (a RICADV task force of domestic violence survivors) was honored as one of four programs in the nation to receive the Mary Byron Celebrating Solutions Award for addressing domestic violence through innovative strategies. The RICADV is the first state domestic violence coalition to have a survivor task force that is more than a speaker’s bureau, because in addition, members actively work on legislative advocacy and help inform the RICADV’s work.
    • In 2013, the RICADV received national recognition from the Office on Violence Against Women as well as an award from the Rhode Island Foundation for the innovative KNOW MORE Video Project featuring real bystander and survivor testimonials.

    “Because domestic violence still occurs at an alarming frequency, we often forget how far we’ve come,” said Lucy Rios, Director of Prevention and Communications at the RICADV. “Too often, the tireless advocacy and innovative strides made by leaders like Deb go unrecognized. She has spent 20 years keeping victims’ needs at the center of our mission and survivors’ voices at the forefront of our work. Her efforts have been life-saving for many Rhode Islanders.”

    On Thursday, November 19, colleagues, friends, and survivors posted their gratitude to DeBare on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtags #ThanksDeb and #20years.

    ###

  • 10/19/15 - Ten Men Summit Looks to Create a World Free of Violence


    In collaboration with the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Rhode Island male community leaders convened at Providence College to discuss healthy masculinity and ways they can prevent and reduce domestic violence


    [Providence, RI – October 19, 2015] What does it mean to be a man in American society? What responsibilities and privileges come with being male? How can we, as men, build a world free of violence? These were the primary questions driving the second annual Ten Men Summit hosted by Providence College on Wednesday, October 14, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

    “Almost from infancy, boys are told they have to be tough, be unemotional, not be a wuss, win at all costs,” said Lee Clasper-Torch, the Men’s Engagement Coordinator for the Ten Men program. “These messages limit their capacity to experience all of their emotions and be whole people, whole men. Our Ten Men Summit was a venue for men of all ages and backgrounds to get together to discuss these issues. Before we can change the culture, we must discuss the culture.”

    Ten Men is an initiative created by the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) as part of a larger statewide initiative to change social norms, funded by the DELTA FOCUS grant. The Ten Men Coordinator, Lee Clasper-Torch, was a teacher at Moses Brown where he spent 25 years coaching football and wrestling for the Quakers. He now serves as an Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at CCRI. Working regularly with young people, especially men, Lee recognizes that they face unique challenges and pressures that exist in a culture where violence is acceptable, or even encouraged.

    “Women have been at the forefront of domestic violence prevention, but men are committing the vast majority of violent acts, whether rape, domestic violence, or murder,” reflected Lee. “Most men are not violent. They are not rapists or abusers, so they often think, ‘That’s not my problem.’ But it is our problem. We, as men, need to be leading the charge to look at the root causes of violence in our culture and to prevent it from happening.”

    The Ten Men project consists of a group of active members who meet regularly to discuss important issues, education, and cutting-edge topics around masculinity. The men then carry the information back to their communities to share meaningful conversations. This train-the-trainer approach helps deliver information about healthy masculinity to a broad range of people across Rhode Island, since the Ten Men includes community leaders such as a Providence police officer, a Newport artist, and a Jewish community leader, among others. The Ten Men Summit was a natural progression of this work, bringing together a wide range of men from all age groups and backgrounds, from college students to working professionals and retirees.

    “I deal with domestic violence daily,” said Marlon Ramdehal, a Ten Men member and the Associate Director of Year Up Providence. “Whether it is a family member, one of the students in my program, or a friend, every single day I am affected by male violence towards women. I am here to stand up against violence. I am here to say, ‘No more!’”

    Marlon is one of the many men who will use the knowledge he gained at the Summit to engage others in healthy conversations about respect for others. During the roundtable discussions, many men expressed that they are already doing some type of men’s work in their lives, whether that means working with young men professionally, mentoring youth in church groups, or inviting family to participate in discussions.

    At the same time they made the commitment to be role models for young men in their lives, the men committed to standing up against violence by being active bystanders – by standing up, speaking out, intervening in potentially harmful situations, and alerting others for assistance when necessary.

    “Women are often told, ‘You should always walk with someone late at night. You should watch your drink so no one drops anything in it. You should be careful what you wear,’” said Dr. Jim Campbell, Title IX Coordinator at Providence College.“But that puts the impetus on women not to get raped or beaten up. That blames the victim. Men are often told, ‘Don’t rape; don’t resort to violence.’ But most men are not rapists and do not resort to violence, so they can tune out. What we really need to be saying is that there are many steps everyone can take to stop violence. We should all be active bystanders and get involved.”

    The Summit followed a powerful year of men organizing in Rhode Island to stop gender violence. This is the third cohort of Ten Men, which builds momentum each year. In June, Ten Men released digital stories that featured current members sharing why they chose to participate in the Ten Men project and why preventing domestic violence is important to them. On August 28, Ten Men members attended a community conference hosted by Roger Williams University and co-sponsored by the RICADV, which featured internationally recognized social theorist Dr. Jackson Katz. Dr. Katz is one of America’s leading anti-sexist male activists and advocate of the bystander approach to gender violence prevention.

    It is not enough to stiffen the punishments for those who commit violence. There must be a shift in attitudes in order to prevent the violence from happening in the first place. Ten Men members are leading the charge.

    For more information, call RICADV at 401-467-9940, or visit www.ricadv.org/tenmen.

    About Ten Men:

    Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s DELTA FOCUS grant, Ten Men is a project of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence that aims to engage Rhode Island men in the primary prevention of intimate partner violence. Ten Men members strive to educate themselves and others about the role that men must play in ending domestic violence; to raise the visibility of RI men engaged in domestic violence prevention efforts; and to mobilize communities in finding community-based solutions for preventing domestic violence.

    ###

  • 10/1/15 - Rhode Island, We’re Counting on You to “Get Off the Bench” and Help End Domestic Violence


    This October, national Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence launches a statewide public awareness campaign featuring University of Rhode Island student athletes

    [Providence, RI – October 1, 2015] Another October 1st signals the start of another Domestic Violence Awareness Month, when, each year, advocates, survivors, and supporters unify around a national platform to raise critical awareness on the issue of domestic violence. But, this year, people may be listening more closely than ever.

    In 2014, the controversy in the NFL around the Ray Rice case spurred the entire country to take part in the conversations that advocates and survivors have been having for decades. From sports broadcasters and famous celebrities to family members and coworkers, everyone was talking about domestic violence – and in 2015, after decades of tireless advocacy to protect victims and break the silence, awareness has reached new heights.

    To build on this momentum, today, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) launches its statewide public awareness campaign, “Get Off the Bench!” featuring University of Rhode Island student athletes.

    This year’s public awareness campaign stems from a partnership between the RICADV and Rhody Sports Properties of Learfield Sports, the multimedia rights holder for URI Athletics and The Thomas M. Ryan Center that coordinates corporate partner engagement. The campaign includes outdoor advertising on buses and billboards throughout the state as well as public service announcements on television, radio, and Pandora, all with URI athletes challenging Rhode Islanders to play their part in ending domestic violence.

    “For too long, our culture has normalized viewing domestic violence as a private relationship matter or family problem rather than the community health epidemic we know it to be. The intense national dialogue sparked in 2014 served to amplify the voices of untold advocates and survivors, and our communities are starting to see the bigger picture – that domestic violence impacts all of us and that it will take all of us, together, to end it,” said Deborah DeBare, executive director of the RICADV. “We are excited to launch our new public awareness campaign featuring URI student athletes, who are speaking out against domestic violence and telling their fellow Rhode Islanders that it is time for them to do the same.”

    Many of the URI athletes who participated in this year’s campaign belong to the URi-STAND Bystander Intervention Program, whose mission is to provide education and awareness to the URI campus community regarding sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking as well as to promote active bystanders to prevent these crimes.

    As the URi-STANDers lead the cultural shift needed to end relationship abuse on campus and beyond, the RICADV’s public awareness campaign is all about getting bystanders in the broader Rhode Island community to see that they, too, have a part to play. When communities step forward as leaders on this issue, individuals are more likely to have the support they need to act, which is why the RICADV’s 2014 campaign focused on helping different sectors – including healthcare, the workplace, and faith – take action to end domestic violence. This year, the campaign targets the Rhode Island athletic community and college campuses.

    “Athletes, students, coaches, parents, teachers, friends, or fans – it does not matter how old or young you are or what roles you play in life. Relationship abuse affects everyone in our communities, and we all have the ability to help end domestic violence,” said Deborah DeBare. “There are many ways you can say or do something to help, and that is what this year’s public awareness campaign is all about. We encourage everyone to visit www.nomoreri.org for more information.”

    Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) sponsors include Dave’s Marketplace, Alliance Security, Cox, and 92 PRO-FM. All month long, Dave’s Marketplace is raising funds to benefit the RICADV in addition to raising awareness among their patrons and employees. Customers can stop by their local Dave’s store and make a donation at checkout.

    DVAM will bring many events and initiatives from the six member agencies of the RICADV: Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, Sojourner House, Women's Center of Rhode Island, and Women's Resource Center. For a full event calendar, visit www.nomoreri.org.

    ###

     

  • 6/18/15 - Ten Men Launches June Public Awareness Campaign as National Leader in the Work to Prevent Domestic Violence through Men’s Engagement


    Ten Men expands RI presence in 2015, the third year of a program funded by 
    the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

    Radio and broadcast public service announcements will air throughout the month on WEEI, WHJY, Pandora, and local TV networks

    [Providence, RI – June 18, 2015] Following a year where domestic violence made national headlines – and the importance of healthy masculinity commanded the country’s attention in unprecedented ways – Ten Men has launched its 2015 Father’s Day public awareness campaign, inviting Rhode Island men to play a part in preventing domestic violence.

    Ten Men’s television public service announcement will air on local networks throughout the month, while the group’s radio public service announcement will air in English on 94 WHJY, 103.7 WEEI, and Pandora and in Spanish on Latina 100.3FM.

    The campaign arrives just in time for Father’s Day, calling RI men to think about how they use their voice and how they influence others. Everyone is a role model for certain people in their lives, which means everyone has the ability to help create a world without domestic violence.

    The Ten Men television PSA shows how all of us – educators, neighbors, business and faith leaders – can help prevent domestic violence in our communities. Across the nation, bystander action has gained momentum in the work to end domestic violence and sexual assault. As active bystanders, members of Ten Men recognize that domestic violence is not only a criminal justice issue but a widespread community health issue, one that requires a cultural shift and community-based solutions in order to prevent it from happening in the first place.

    Ten Men’s radio PSA emphasizes “Together, we can end domestic violence,” highlighting the fact that domestic violence is not just “a women’s issue” – we all, particularly men, have an important role to play in addressing this problem. As Ten Men enters its third program year, the project has expanded to include men of all ages, backgrounds, and fields of expertise, including a Political Science major at Rhode Island College, a Providence police officer, a Newport community artist, youth educators, and more. We cannot end domestic violence with only ten men, but as Ten Men continues to grow and more RI men get involved every year, their spheres of influence will broaden the project’s reach. Collectively, these men can create social change by challenging the learned attitudes and behaviors around masculinity, gender, and relationships that serve to perpetuate men’s violence against women.

    Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s DELTA FOCUS grant, Ten Men is a project of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV). The RICADV is one of only ten grantees in the country conducting leading-edge work in domestic violence prevention to develop an evidence base for stopping domestic violence before it starts.

    Ten Men members play an integral role in shaping the program structure through the RICADV’s formative evaluation methods, and the project continues to evolve using the direct feedback of participants. This year, as a result of that feedback, members of the 2013 and 2014 cohorts now have crystalized roles for continuing on as leaders in the work. As each cohort ends and a new one begins, members from past years can stay involved, culminating in a diverse statewide community of men committed to preventing domestic violence.

    Later this month, Ten Men will release digital stories that feature current members, all local Rhode Island men, sharing their stories, why they chose to participate in the Ten Men project, and why preventing domestic violence is important to them.

    On Friday, August 28, Roger Williams University will host a community conference featuring internationally recognized social theorist Dr. Jackson Katz. The RICADV is co-sponsoring this event, and Ten Men will be participating alongside Dr. Katz, one of America’s leading anti-sexist male activists and advocate of the bystander approach to gender violence prevention.

    Then, in October, Ten Men will host its second annual statewide Ten Men Summit, where Rhode Island men will join together in support of a shared vision – a world without domestic violence.


    About Ten Men:

    Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s DELTA FOCUS grant, Ten Men is a project of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) that aims to engage Rhode Island men in the primary prevention of intimate partner violence. Ten Men members strive to educate themselves and others about the role that men must play in ending domestic violence; to raise the visibility of RI men engaged in domestic violence prevention efforts; and to mobilize communities in finding community-based solutions for preventing domestic violence. For more information, visit www.ricadv.org/tenmen.

    ###

  • 6/10/15 - The RI Senate Moves to Schedule the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund Legislation for a Committee Vote This Thursday After a State House Demonstration Yesterday by Advocates, Survivors, and Children Who Have Witnessed


    The Speaker of the House met directly with children who have witnessed domestic violence, but the House still has not moved on the bill

    As of today, 505 children (and counting) have been present at domestic violence arrests since H5651/S650 was heard in March

    [Providence – June 10, 2015] At yesterday's event, the Rhode Island Senate President and the Speaker of the House had the opportunity to hear directly from children who have witnessed domestic violence about their experiences. The Senate has taken immediate action in scheduling a committee vote on the bill this Thursday. The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence urges the House to follow their lead.

    In the aftermath of the two horrific domestic violence murders involving children that occurred in May and the realization of the 505 children present at domestic violence arrests since March1, the General Assembly must seriously consider this bill that could help prevent domestic violence and the many adverse outcomes for children who witness these crimes.

    Domestic violence is a very real problem affecting all Rhode Islanders – a survivor helping to organize the June 9 event said that 4 of the 500 children are hers. This month, both she and her eight-year-old daughter were assaulted by her abuser. A neighbor called the police, and thankfully she and her daughter were safe in that instance, but she worries about the future safety and well-being of her children. That is why she is advocating for the passage of the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund, a bill that would help prevent domestic violence from causing further harm to her children and so many others.

    Childhood trauma is not something a person grows out of – such adverse experiences strongly relate to a person's development and to the prevalence of health and social problems throughout one's lifespan, including chronic diseases, substance abuse, dropping out of school, employment challenges, and even early death.2

    In Rhode Island, an alarming number of children are witnessing violence in the home. In 2013, children were present for 40% of domestic violence arrests, and children also accounted for 50% of the clients who stayed in domestic violence shelters that year.3 Just last week, it was reported that a domestic violence incident took place in Providence in which children witnessed their mother being physically assaulted by her ex-boyfriend and were further hurt when he threw hot cooking oil on them. The children were rushed to Hasbro Children’s Hospital and their conditions are unknown at this time.

    What’s worse, research shows that children who witness domestic violence are more likely to continue the cycle of violence into the next generation – either as victims or as perpetrators. The single best predictor of children becoming either perpetrators or victims of domestic violence later in life is whether or not they grow up in a home where domestic violence occurs.4 Rhode Islanders must prevent that cycle from continuing; it is possible by passing the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund.

    Much has been said about Rhode Island’s focus on a healthy workforce and economy. Rhode Island’s children are its future and are integral to rebuilding the state. That is why the work to prevent domestic violence from happening in the first place must continue. Rhode Island’s children must not be left to suffer the harmful effects of domestic violence behind closed doors.

    What could possibly delay moving a bill forward that could help protect Rhode Island’s children?

    The cost to their futures is too great to ignore. The Domestic Violence Prevention Fund must pass into law before the session ends.

    About the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund:

    The Domestic Violence Prevention Fund will establish a fund that will support emerging evidence-based programs that strive to prevent domestic violence before it starts.

    H5651 is sponsored by Representative Christopher R. Blazejewski, and its companion bill S650, is sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin.

    1, 3 2015 Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Factbook

    2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) ACE Study (Adverse Childhood Experiences)

    4 WHO, ‘World Report on Violence and Health’, ed. By Krug, Etienne G., et al., Geneva, 2002; Baldry, A.C., ‘Bullying in Schools and Exposure to DV’, Child Abuse and Neglect, vol. 27, no. 7, 2003, pp. 713-732; Fantuzzo John W. and Wanda K. Mohr, ‘Prevalence and Effects of Child Exposure to Domestic Violence’, The Future of Children – Domestic Violence and Children, vol. 9, no. 3, 1999.

    ###

  • 6/4/15 - The General Assembly’s Silence and Inaction on the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund Gravely Hurt Rhode Island Children


    On June 9, advocates, survivors and community members will descend on the State House to recognize the 500 children who have been present at domestic violence arrests since H5651/S650 were heard in March

    Domestic violence is preventable, but immediate action must be taken to move on H5651/S650 and pass the bills into law

    [Providence – June 4, 2015] In the aftermath of two horrific domestic violence murders involving children and the realization of the 500 children present at domestic violence arrests1, it is unconscionable that there has been silence around the bills that could help prevent domestic violence and the many adverse outcomes for children who witness these crimes.

    Domestic violence is a very real problem affecting all Rhode Islanders – a survivor helping to organize the June 9 event said that 4 of the 500 children are hers. Last Saturday, both she and her eight-year-old daughter were assaulted by her abuser. A neighbor called the police, and thankfully she and her daughter were safe in that instance, but she worries about the future safety and well-being of her children. That is why she is advocating for the passage of the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund, a bill that would help prevent domestic violence from causing further harm to her children and so many others.

    Childhood trauma is not something a person grows out of – such adverse experiences strongly relate to a person's development and to the prevalence of health and social problems throughout one's lifespan, including chronic diseases, substance abuse, dropping out of school, employment challenges, and even early death.2

    In Rhode Island, an alarming number of children are witnessing violence in the home. In 2013, children were present for 40% of domestic violence arrests, and children also accounted for 50% of the clients who stayed in domestic violence shelters that year3. Just yesterday, it was reported that a domestic violence incident took place in Providence in which children witnessed their mother being physically assaulted by her ex-boyfriend and were further hurt when he threw hot cooking oil on them. The children were rushed to Hasbro Children’s Hospital and their conditions are unknown at this time.

    What’s worse, research shows that children who witness domestic violence are more likely to continue the cycle of violence into the next generation – either as victims or as perpetrators. The single best predictor of children becoming either perpetrators or victims of domestic violence later in life is whether or not they grow up in a home where domestic violence occurs.4 Rhode Islanders must prevent that cycle from continuing; it is possible by passing the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund.

    Much has been said about Rhode Island’s focus on a healthy workforce and economy. Rhode Island’s children are its future and are integral to rebuilding the state. That is why the work to prevent domestic violence from happening in the first place must continue. Rhode Island’s children must not be left to suffer the harmful effects of domestic violence behind closed doors.

    What could possibly delay moving a bill forward that could help protect Rhode Island’s children?

    The bills are currently being held by the House and Senate Judiciary Committees with no discussion or thought about the children being hurt every day. The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence invites community members to stand with them as they urge legislators to vote the bills out of committee and onto the floors for a vote so that they may pass into law before the session ends.

    The health of Rhode Island and the futures of its children are counting on it.

    Event details are below.

    WHAT:
    A gathering to support the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund and recognize the 500 children (and counting) who have been present at domestic violence arrests since the bills were heard in March. Community members are invited to join advocates in urging the General Assembly to move on H5651/S650 and pass them into law. Their silence and inaction are unacceptable – both gravely hurt Rhode Island children.

    WHO:
    The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, Sojourner House, Women’s Center of Rhode Island, Women’s Resource Center, Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR)

    WHEN:
    Tuesday, June 9, 2015 from 4 PM - 5 PM

    WHERE:
    State House (Rotunda)
    82 Smith Street
    Providence

    About the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund:
    The Domestic Violence Prevention Fund will establish a fund that will support emerging evidence-based programs that strive to prevent domestic violence before it starts.

    H5651 is sponsored by Representative Christopher R. Blazejewski, and its companion bill S650, is sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin.

    For more information visit www.ricadv.org.

    1, 3 2015 Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Factbook

    2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) ACE Study (Adverse Childhood Experiences)

    4 WHO, ‘World Report on Violence and Health’, ed. By Krug, Etienne G., et al., Geneva, 2002; Baldry, A.C., ‘Bullying in Schools and Exposure to DV’, Child Abuse and Neglect, vol. 27, no. 7, 2003, pp. 713-732; Fantuzzo John W. and Wanda K. Mohr, ‘Prevalence and Effects of Child Exposure to Domestic Violence’, The Future of Children – Domestic Violence and Children, vol. 9, no. 3, 1999.

    ###

  • 3/11/15 - Domestic Violence is Deadly to Rhode Island's Future

    [Providence – March 11, 2015] At a hearing today for the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence's 2015 top legislative priority, the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund (H5651), state lawmakers will hear testimony on the high cost of domestic violence to Rhode Island businesses, cities and towns, and to every citizen and community throughout Rhode Island. The bill is sponsored by Representative Christopher R. Blazejewski, and a companion bill (S650) will be introduced this afternoon in the Senate by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin.

    Domestic violence is a serious, widespread and preventable public health problem that affects individuals, communities, the workforce, and society. It is similar to other workplace health and safety issues that gravely impact businesses, their bottom lines, and the lives of their employees.

    In order to build a bright future for Rhode Island, everyone must take action to prevent domestic violence in Rhode Island communities.

    Domestic violence does not just affect victims and abusers, but also their children, family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors and religious communities. It happens where Rhode Islanders live, play, pray and work. Rhode Island communities are close-knit, and with 1 in 3 Rhode Islanders experiencing domestic violence in their lifetimes, everyone has seen the toll of personal suffering domestic violence brings. Less discussed is the deadly effect that domestic violence has to the state's economic stability and growth—reduced productivity, absenteeism and increased healthcare costs are the result of perpetration of this abuse on victims.

    Domestic violence  is estimated to cost the U.S. economy $8.3 billion annually in medical costs and lost productivity. In addition, state and local budgets are highly impacted by related costs, including police calls (approximately 8,000 calls each year in Rhode Island), the prosecution and monitoring of domestic violence perpetrators, and disproportionate numbers of children who witness domestic violence requiring special education or child protective services.

    Rhode Island's recovery depends on a strong, healthy workforce. Domestic violence keeps the state's workforce from its full potential in many ways. It is the most common cause of injury for women ages 18-44 and is associated with many adverse health outcomes. Up to half of employed victims of domestic violence report that they lost their jobs due at least in part to the domestic violence, with 47% of employed victims reporting that they were specifically prevented from working by their abuser. All of these facts are connected to a healthy workforce, which is the fuel that drives a strong economy. But a workforce is made up of people, including victims of domestic violence.

    In Rhode Island many leading companies that are advancing the state's workforce and economy, such as Verizon Wireless, the Verizon Foundation, CVS Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI, Dave's Marketplace, and Alliance Security, have identified domestic violence as a critical issue and have supported initiatives to raise awareness and strengthen programs for victims. However, preventing—and ultimately ending—domestic violence will take support from businesses and the state. It is imperative that the state act today.

    All people want bright futures for their children and strive to live in in communities that are healthy and safe; where families, friends, and neighbors can reach their fullest potential. But it is sadly Rhode Island's children and teens who face the biggest costs to their futures. With 22.4 % of victims first experiencing dating violence between the ages of 11-17, and 47.1% first experiencing dating violence between 18-24, the vision of young Rhode Islanders having prosperous lives and inheriting a healthy state economy are being threatened.

    Alarming data from the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) reveals that across all public high schools in Rhode Island, teens who experience dating violence show a significantly higher incidence of other unhealthy behaviors and victimization such as alcohol and substance abuse, attempted suicide, eating disorders, sexual assault, bullying and cyberbullying.

    Domestic violence is deadly to Rhode Island's future; the state can't afford to ignore the problem.

    Through ongoing statewide prevention programs supported by the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund, Rhode Island can sustain the work needed to change the behaviors that make violence possible. By failing to focus on the prevention of domestic violence, a ripple effect of social, health, and economic consequences beyond immediate injury and beyond the individual or family unit will continue to weaken the state's infrastructure. Rhode Island's well-being and progress are in jeopardy.

    "The bill will establish a fund that will support emerging evidence-based programs that strive to prevent domestic violence before it starts. We are glad that Rhode Island's leadership is addressing the seriousness of this issue and are looking at preventing domestic violence as the solution. Domestic violence has been identified as a national priority, and as we search for ways to improve Rhode Island's own economic growth, we must include domestic violence prevention. One cannot happen without the other," said Deborah DeBare, executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

    The bottom line: domestic violence is preventable and stopping it before it starts can save both lives and dollars. The health of Rhode Island and the futures of its children are counting on it.

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  • 1/7/15 - The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence Unveils New Leading-Edge Responsive Website Tailored to Support Victims and Engage Bystanders


    The redesigned website optimizes the user experience in a format that adapts to mobile devices and raises the visibility of statewide services for victims along with resources on how to help


    [Providence – January 7, 2015] The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence today launched a new responsive website in its mission to extend the outreach of its member agencies that serve nearly 10,000 victims of domestic violence each year. The statewide Helpline receives an influx of calls each day, yet untold victims may not know where to turn for help. The new website adds a robust victim-focused tool that has the capacity to adjust to any electronic device accessing the site. Designed to reach diverse audiences, including the Latino community, it can support those impacted by abuse as well as advocates and others who want to help.

    "We are excited to unveil our new website to Rhode Island and to our partners in the work to end domestic violence. Its launch is a groundbreaking milestone for us and our community. Its ease of use and breadth of resources will help us better communicate with victims and share our work with supporters—both existing and those who will join our movement as a result," said Deborah DeBare, Executive Director of the RICADV.

    In launching the new website, the RICADV is raising the visibility of the numerous programs and services available to victims in Rhode Island, offering a user-friendly experience for those who need quick, easy-to-find information. For example, the site explains laws that protect victims' rights, providing contact details for those who may have experienced discrimination. Local agency services are highlighted that may be new or not widely known. A technology and privacy section outlines useful tips to help victims safely navigate the website and adjust settings on the Web, social media accounts, and their devices, such as their smartphones. Expanded content can be found in nearly every area, most critically in the "Get Help" and "How to Help" sections, the latter of which helps people know more about domestic violence and the ways they can support someone impacted by abuse.

    Visitors to the website can also view profiles of presenters from the RICADV's Training Calendars, learn about emerging areas of the work, including statewide primary prevention efforts, and find ways to take action as concerned citizens in Rhode Island by getting updates on the RICADV's legislative agenda and public awareness campaigns. A Spanish language website is also available that includes information on help and services.

    The new responsive design will meet a huge need in the community; according to the organization's Google Analytics metrics, approximately 1/3 of visitors access www.ricadv.org on mobile devices.

    "Domestic violence is still very much an epidemic, but now, more than ever, we have an increased ability to create social change through dynamic digital environments, such as those offered by responsive website technology and social media platforms. We want to hear from our visitors so that we may always be responsive to their needs and help them stay safe and know more," said Cristina Williams, Manager of Communications and Public Relations for the RICADV. The RICADV's communications team, which received a Best Practices Award from the RI Foundation in 2014, spearheaded the redesign project, with integral input and support from the organization's staff of subject matter experts and advocates.

    At the helm of the RICADV for nearly 20 years, DeBare has helped move the work forward through her commitment to quality services and by providing key support for innovative projects, sustaining the RICADV's history of progress in raising awareness around the issue of domestic violence and creating tools for community members and the media since its inception 35 years ago.

    "Our organization is a leader, both statewide and nationally, in the areas of systems change, prevention, and public education. We understand the vital role of communications in the work to end domestic violence. This website is an essential resource for victims and for each and every one of us who has the potential to be a lifeline to someone in a domestic violence situation. Ending domestic violence will take all of our collective efforts, but together we will end it," added DeBare.

    As the new website continues to roll out and evolve, the RICADV invites community members to explore the site and provide feedback on their experiences. (Comments may be sent to ricadv@ricadv.org.)

    The RICADV has plans to similarly renovate other websites later this year, including that of SOAR (Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships), the award-winning task force of the RICADV made up of domestic violence survivors, and the RICADV's Online Guide for Journalists.

    The website is powered by Joomla! 3.3 and was developed by Alex Moore and Matthew Troiano, long-time supporters of the RICADV who went above and beyond the scope of this project.

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  • 11/18/15 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Homicide of Aliss Collins


    By Deborah DeBare, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Judith Earle, Executive Director, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center
     

    [Providence, RI – November 18, 2015] We are devastated by the murder of a pregnant Cranston woman, Aliss Collins, that occurred last week. On Friday, November 13, Aliss, 32, was severely beaten by Born Smith, her intimate partner, who then set fire to her apartment. Aliss was taken by emergency personnel to Rhode Island Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

    The murder of Aliss Collins is the seventh domestic violence murder to occur in Rhode Island in 2015. This senseless act of violence cut short the life of a young mother-to-be and stole the future of a loving family. A time that should have been filled with excitement and joy has now been consumed by tragedy. We extend our deepest condolences to Aliss’s family, friends, and all those who have been impacted by this heinous crime.

    We commend the Cranston and Providence police departments for recognizing this crime as domestic violence. Born Smith did not possess a prior documented history of domestic violence in Rhode Island, yet it is important to understand that domestic murder is not an isolated incident but often the final abusive act in a pattern of violent behaviors that came before.

    Domestic violence between intimate partners consists of abusive behaviors that one partner uses to exert power and control over the other, and pregnancy can be a particularly dangerous time for women. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), between 4 and 8 percent of women experience domestic violence during pregnancy. Each year, more than 324,000 pregnant women are raped or physically assaulted by an intimate partner (NCADV). Many life-altering changes take place when a woman is pregnant, so the abusive partner may fear losing power and control over them and react in destructive ways. Studies have shown that murder is the second most common cause of injury-related death for pregnant women in the United States (NCADV).

    During pregnancy, prenatal visits are an opportunity for women to discuss any concerns they may have about their safety with a medical provider. Intervention from health care professionals, even an action as simple as providing a referral card for domestic violence services, has been shown to reduce threats of domestic abuse, assaults, and risks for homicide.1 Medical providers should create a safe space without the woman’s partner present in order to discuss the woman's health and safety. Tools and best practices for domestic violence screening in health care settings can be found at www.healthcaresaboutipv.org.

    The murder of Aliss Collins is a tragic reminder that domestic violence is being perpetrated every day behind closed doors by abusers who seek to control their partners. No individual, family, or community is immune, and the abuse is never the victim’s fault. 

    If you are experiencing domestic violence or know someone who is experiencing abuse, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour support at 800-494-8100. If you hear or see someone being hurt, call 911 immediately.


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    1McFarlane JM, Groff JY, O’Brien JA, Watson K. “Secondary Prevention of Intimate Partner Violence: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Nursing Research. February 2006;55(1):52-61.

  • 9/9/15 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Homicide of Yolanda McArdle


    By Deborah DeBare, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Lori DiPersio, Executive Director, Women's Resource Center

     

    [Providence, RI – September 9, 2015] We are deeply saddened by the domestic violence murder that occurred overnight in Portsmouth. The life of Yolanda McArdle was cut violently short when she was stabbed multiple times by her intimate partner.

    As our communities mourn this loss of life in sadness and outrage, this tragedy reminds us that domestic violence is a widespread epidemic, one that impacts all Rhode Islanders.

    The perpetrator, Raymond Ramsey, is a known repeat offender, having been arrested many times for domestic violence across more than a decade. At the time he committed this heinous act, he was out on bail, awaiting trial for a domestic violence crime he committed more than two months ago.

    In the wake of 6 domestic violence homicides and 8 lives lost as a result of domestic violence in Rhode Island in 2015, it is critical that our criminal justice system strengthens its response to domestic violence.

    Victims of domestic violence, and all Rhode Islanders, deserve courts and a criminal justice system that move swiftly to hold abusers accountable and keep victims safe. All systems must take all cases seriously – a seemingly minor case of domestic violence can rapidly escalate towards homicide. It is crucial 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.

    Domestic violence is preventable, yet we continue to lose the lives of Rhode Islanders to this public health crisis. In the wake of such horrific acts, people often ask, “How could this happen here?” This tragedy – the third domestic violence homicide to occur in Rhode Island in less than three weeks – tells us yet again that domestic violence does happen in Rhode Island and is taking place in every city and town, even those perceived to be “quiet” or “low crime” communities.

    Judges, prosecutors, law enforcement professionals, and others who work in criminal justice must have the information and systems support they need to determine lethality and safety risk when it comes to domestic violence. We must build systemic intolerance and community connectedness to stop domestic violence from being a threat to every Rhode Islander’s future. We cannot afford to wait. We must say NO MORE today and, together, find solutions that will create a world without domestic violence.

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


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  • 8/25/15 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Homicide in Middletown


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


    [Providence, RI – August 25, 2015] Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Rachael S. Kilroy, who was murdered earlier today. This tragedy is the second domestic violence homicide to occur this week, a harrowing reminder that domestic violence is a widespread epidemic, one that knows no boundaries and affects all communities.

    Today in Rhode Island, more than one hundred law enforcement officers, advocates, criminal justice professionals, and others who work closely on domestic violence cases gathered for a training entitled “Lethal Domestic Violence.” Led by Dr. David Adams of Emerge, the country’s first and leading abuser education program, the training focused on identifying risk factors of lethal domestic violence and considered models for a multidisciplinary, cooperative approach to keeping victims and their families safe. We are deeply saddened to know that, in the same week such efforts are being taken to strengthen our criminal justice response to this issue, we have lost two more lives to domestic violence.

    What makes this week’s events even more tragic is that we know domestic violence is preventable. When we view domestic violence solely as a criminal justice issue or a private relationship matter – rather than as the preventable public health crisis we know it to be – we fail to understand or adequately address the vast toll that domestic violence takes on all of us.

    We cannot wait for such senseless murders to take place before expressing our outrage and demanding change. Domestic violence is happening every day in every city and town in Rhode Island. It is happening to people we know and love, like Arien and Rachael.

    We cannot afford to ignore this problem. The impact of domestic violence on our state and every Rhode Islander’s future is too great. We must take a stand now, today, and work to find solutions that will build a peaceful world. Together, we must say NO MORE – before we lose yet another life, cut short by domestic violence.

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

     

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  • 8/24/15 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Murder-Suicide in Providence


    By Vanessa Volz, Executive Director, Sojourner House; Kristin Lyons, Executive Director, Women’s Center of Rhode Island; and Deborah DeBare, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence


    [Providence, RI – August 24, 2015] We are profoundly saddened by the loss of life in Providence reported early this morning. Our heartfelt condolences go out to all those who have been impacted by this tragedy.

    While the incident is currently under investigation, we know that a domestic violence murder occurred where the perpetrator took the life of his former partner, 32-year-old Arien Daly, before taking his own.

    It is important to realize that this crime did not happen due to the perpetrator’s momentary loss of temper or control. It was not an isolated incident but rather the final violent act in a pattern of abusive behaviors that escalated to the point of homicide.

    No words can adequately describe the impact that such a horrific act has on family members, friends, loved ones, and the community as a whole. We extend our deepest sympathies to all as they begin to mourn this loss.

    Reportedly, the relationship between the victim and perpetrator ended about six months ago. Research tells us that women are at higher risk for domestic violence homicide when they separate from their abusers. According to a 2003 national study that reviewed data from 11 U.S. cities, 55% of female intimate partner homicide victims were estranged from their partners when killed.1 In Rhode Island, 37% of the deaths resulting from domestic violence homicides between 2010-2014 were known to involve estranged intimate partners.2

    We also know that the perpetrator used a firearm to carry out this heinous crime. According to research, firearms also increase the risk of intimate partner homicide. In fact, the risk is five times greater when the perpetrator has access to firearms than in instances where there are no weapons.3 In Rhode Island, 39% of the deaths resulting from domestic violence homicides between 2010-2014 involved firearms.4

    We cannot wait for tragic reminders like this horrendous event to stir us to action. We know that domestic violence is taking place every day in every Rhode Island community, perpetrated by abusers seeking to exert power and control over their partners. It is happening to our neighbors, coworkers, relatives, and friends, regardless of race, age, gender, or neighborhood. We also know that domestic violence is preventable and that, with increased resources and community involvement, Rhode Island can stem the tide.

    We cannot ignore this problem – the impact of domestic violence on our state and on Rhode Islanders’ futures is much too great. In the wake of this tragedy, we call on all Rhode Islanders to take a stand – we must make addressing domestic violence a priority. We can’t afford to wait.

    1Janice Roehl, Ph.D.; Chris O’Sullivan, Ph.D.; Daniel Webster, ScD; Jacquelyn Campbell, Ph.D. May 2005. Intimate Partner Violence Risk Assessment Validation Study, Final Report. National Institute of Justice.

    2, 4RICADV Homicide Project, 2015.

    3J. C. Campbell, D; Webster, J; Koziol-McLain, C. R; et al. 2003. Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results from A Multi-Site Case Control Study. American Journal of Public Health. 93(7).


    Ways to Help:

    As relatives, friends, coworkers, classmates, and neighbors, we must be able to understand the dynamics of abuse, identify warning signs, and know how to intervene so that we can 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 abuse, 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 statewide Helpline (1-800-494-8100). Additional resources and information can be found at www.ricadv.org.

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  • 5/27/15 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Murder of Yanira Flores


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


    We are profoundly saddened by the death of Yanira Flores, mother of two and beloved member of her Woonsocket community. We extend our heartfelt condolences to all those who have been impacted by this horrendous crime.

    Yanira's alleged domestic violence murder at the hands of her boyfriend, Alvin Huggins, father of her two children, occurs less than three weeks after the domestic violence murder of an East Providence woman on Mother's Day. With each of these cases, the crimes were not isolated incidents but the final abusive acts in a pattern of violent behaviors perpetrated against these women by their abusers.

    We are particularly distressed to learn that Yanira's murder occurred in the presence of her two young children, ages 4 and 2. In addition to the trauma they now must cope with, having witnessed the deadly act of violence that ultimately took their mother's life, we know that, as a result of this trauma, Yanira's children may suffer a range of severe effects lasting well into adulthood – and they are not alone. In Rhode Island, an alarming number of children are witnessing violence in the home. In 2013, children were present for 40% of domestic violence arrests, and children also accounted for 50% of the clients who stayed in domestic violence shelters that year.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) ACE Study (Adverse Childhood Experiences), childhood exposure to abuse, neglect, and other traumatic stressors has negative impacts on people's health and well-being across the lifespan. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can include physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and neglect as well as the witnessing of violence against one's mother in the home. Childhood trauma is not something a person grows out of – such adverse experiences strongly relate to a person's development and to the prevalence of health and social problems throughout one's lifespan, including chronic diseases, substance abuse, dropping out of school, employment challenges, and even early death.

    When we view domestic violence as a criminal justice issue that only pertains to a few individuals – rather than as the preventable public health crisis we know it to be – we fail to understand or adequately address the vast toll that domestic violence takes on all of us, including family, friends, and neighbors, but particularly any children who are involved. Several studies show that children who witness domestic violence are more likely to continue the cycle of violence into the next generation – either as victims or as perpetrators. The single best predictor of children becoming either perpetrators or victims of domestic violence later in life is whether or not they grow up in a home where domestic violence occurs.

    Our children are our future, but in the face of such facts and statistics, what will that future look like for them? What will it look like for Rhode Island? To break the cycle of domestic violence across generations, we must do more to protect our children, create a brighter future for our state, and prevent domestic violence from happening in the first place.

    When high profile cases like Yanira's murder occur, those suffering from abuse are finally seen, but seen much too late. Domestic violence occurs every day in every Rhode Island community – no type of person and no city or town is immune. The countless others impacted by domestic violence deserve to live their lives free from abuse. We must act now if we are to ever build that world for them, for one another, and for the generations to come.
    Resources for Children in Rhode Island:

    Children who are exposed to violence in the home are being denied their right to a safe, stable home life where they can grow and thrive. They need trusted adults to turn to for support as well as services that help them cope with their experiences and rebuild their lives.

    At Sojourner House, the Youth Advocate works solely with children who have witnessed domestic violence. The Youth Advocate offers an expressive arts group and a parenting group for shelter and transitional housing clients. Every summer, Sojourner House offers a summer camp, Camp Eureka, in partnership with Moses Brown, a free camp available to all children who have accessed the agency's services throughout the year.

    Community Care Alliance is a multi-service agency based in Woonsocket working to strengthen families, individuals, and the community. To learn how the Alliance can be a resource for children who witness domestic violence, visit their website at www.communitycareri.org.


    Ways to Help:

    As relatives, friends, coworkers, classmates, and neighbors, we must be able to understand the dynamics of abuse, identify warning signs, and know how to intervene so that we can 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. Reach out to anyone whom you 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 (800-494-8100). Additional resources and information can be found at www.ricadv.org.

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  • 5/12/15 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Arrest of Judge Thomas Ricci


    By Judith Earle, Executive Director, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, and Deborah DeBare, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence


    We are deeply concerned about the charges in the domestic violence case involving Judge Thomas Ricci. According to reports, the victim is his girlfriend and showed physical evidence of strangulation. While we do not know all the facts of this developing case, we do know that the law is very clear regarding this serious domestic violence crime.

    In 2012, the Rhode Island General Assembly revised the domestic violence law by classifying the crime of strangulation as a felony. A domestic violence victim who has been strangled is 10 times more likely to be killed than one who has not.1 Prior to this legislation, strangulation was treated as a misdemeanor simple assault. Thankfully today, our criminal justice system has a tool for holding all batterers accountable and helping protect victims from this potentially lethal act of violence.

    According to Rhode Island law (§ 11-5-2.3), strangulation means knowingly and intentionally impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person, with the intent to cause that person harm. Signs of strangulation can include red marks, such as those reportedly seen on Ricci's girlfriend, as well as bruising around the neck, voice changes, and difficulty swallowing or breathing.

    When these signs are present in a domestic violence situation, they are a clear indication of strangulation and should be charged as such. In Rhode Island, we have seen tragic cases of strangulation escalate to murder when the crime was formerly charged as a simple assault. That is why we must uphold the updated law and charge every crime of domestic violence strangulation as a felony. We cannot afford to put a victim's life at greater risk. Strangulation is the most lethal of domestic violence assaults, and abusers are warning their victims of their power and control over them—that their lives are literally in their hands. We urge authorities to continue the investigation into this matter.

    We would like to remind the media and public to be mindful that when victims of domestic violence report abuse or leave the abusive relationship to seek safety, it is an especially dangerous time for them. Victims whose abusers hold positions of legal authority often face unique barriers. A victim in this situation is particularly vulnerable because their abuser is well connected, knows the legal system well, and likely knows specific details about the resources available for victims, including the confidential locations of domestic violence shelters.

    Again, we strongly urge law enforcement to continue the investigation into this case and to reconsider the simple assault charge. When law enforcement investigates domestic violence incidents committed by alleged abusers in positions of legal authority, they send the message that in Rhode Island there is never any reason to excuse abuse or any batterer, while also helping to encourage other victims in similar situations to come forward and stay safe.

    1National Institute of Justice Journal Study (November 2003)


    Ways to Help:

    As relatives, friends, coworkers, classmates, and neighbors, we must be able to understand the dynamics of abuse, identify warning signs, and know how to intervene so that we can keep victims safe and prevent another tragedy.

    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 Strangulation:

    Through strangulation, unconsciousness can occur within seconds and death within minutes, according to the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, a program of the National Family Justice Center Alliance. Strangulation is also the best predictor of future homicide of domestic violence victims. Even minimal force may cause bleeding or swelling inside the neck. Delayed trauma may include bleeding and damage to the inside of the artery. As the body tries to heal, strokes and cardiac arrest are possible. Strangulation may cause pneumonitis and fluid overload in the lungs, even up to two weeks after the assault. Other neurologic signs and symptoms may include vision changes, ringing in the ears, facial or eyelid drooping, one-sided weakness, incontinence, and miscarriage. Weeks to months after an assault, a victim may have problems sleeping and experience impairment in memory and concentration. Mental health problems can include anxiety, depression, and dementia. In up to 50 percent of cases, there are no visible bruises.

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  • 5/11/15 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Murder of Christine Santurri


    By Kristin Lyons, Executive Director, Women’s Center of Rhode Island, and Deborah DeBare, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence


    We are extremely saddened by the death of Christine Santurri, mother of three children and beloved member of her East Providence community. We extend our heartfelt condolences to all those who have been impacted by this heinous crime, which occurred Sunday morning in front of Christine’s eldest daughter.

    Christine’s domestic violence murder by her ex-boyfriend, Yuland Stanfield, is a tragic reminder that domestic violence is perpetrated every day in Rhode Island by abusers seeking to exert power and control over their partners. Stanfield has a lengthy history of domestic violence assaults dating back to 1992. It is important to realize that this crime was not an isolated incident but the final abusive act in a pattern of violent behaviors, all of which need to be taken seriously by law enforcement and our communities.

    Police receive more than 20 domestic violence calls every day in our state. Even with the protections that exist for victims through Rhode Island's criminal justice system, domestic violence remains an epidemic. It is taking place in every RI community and is happening to all kinds of Rhode Islanders, regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Our systems need to take victim concerns and violations of restraining orders seriously. Violations of protective orders are an indication of stalking, which is a serious and significant homicide risk factor. When such lethality factors are present in a case, it is critical that systems prioritize taking immediate action to protect victims and their families.

    No level of violence is tolerable. No abusive environment is safe. In most cases, no one expects the abuse that they may have overheard, witnessed or even experienced to escalate to the point of murder—but domestic violence homicides continue to occur in Rhode Island each year. Because domestic violence can escalate quickly, bystanders close to the situation, including community members and loved ones, must heed all warning signs. Every Rhode Islander has a part to play. Even the smallest step can save someone's life.

    The bottom line is that we must build systemic intolerance and community connectedness to stop domestic violence from being a threat to every Rhode Islander’s future. We cannot hesitate any longer. We cannot afford to lose another life to domestic violence, to watch it traumatize another child or devastate another family. People we know and love are suffering, and an alarming number of Rhode Island children are witnessing violence in the home. To break the cycle of violence, to create safe, connected communities for our families, neighbors, and the generations to come, we must at once take victim concerns seriously and also work to stop domestic violence from ever occurring in the first place.

    The safety net of crisis services – invaluable lifelines for domestic violence victims after abuse has occurred – must remain robust and accessible. Additionally, we must focus on the prevention of domestic violence if we are to ever stem the tide. We can't afford to ignore domestic violence any longer. It will take increased resources and community involvement, but together we can prevent and end domestic violence.


    Ways to Help:

    As relatives, friends, coworkers, classmates, and neighbors, we must be able to understand the dynamics of abuse, identify warning signs, and know how to intervene so that we can 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. 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.

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  • 2/10/15 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Reported Murder of Sara LaMont and Suicide of Wajih Mazloum

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

    Today, we are saddened to learn about another domestic violence murder-suicide with a Rhode Island connection. Wajih Mazloum of Barrington, RI, reportedly killed his girlfriend, Sara LaMont, of Tinton Falls, NJ. Both were students at Tulane University in New Orleans, where the murder occurred. The headline read, "Law student from Barrington dies in New Orleans in what police call murder-suicide," making it initially unclear who the victim was in this tragedy.

    Our hearts and thoughts are with both families as those who loved them try to process this senseless crime involving two young people with their futures ahead of them. The reality is that a person killed by their partner in a murder-suicide is a victim of domestic violence. New Orleans police said that, although there was no documented history of violence between the two, "any time a boyfriend kills a girlfriend, we consider that to be a domestic violence."

    There have now been 5 deaths related to domestic violence involving Rhode Islanders in the last 3 months. This most recent tragedy comes during a month designated to raise awareness about dating violence—we urge Rhode Islanders to stand with us in preventing this abuse that happens every day. We must act now.

    We all need to know that domestic violence is no "accident." Dating and domestic violence are about a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviors that may have no documented history, but usually have many warning signs such as extreme jealousy, isolating a partner from friends and family, and stalking. Murder is the ultimate act of power and control over a partner.

    Contrary to what people may think, an abusive person doesn't usually "look" that way. They may be charming, well liked, hard working, and come from "good families." If we ever wish to end dating and domestic violence, we must acknowledge that it affects us all, and that victims and abusers come from all walks of life and every community, including our own. Preventing this abuse means addressing the societal issues that make violence possible, creating environments where everyone sees domestic violence as their business, changing negative behaviors early on, and educating youth about healthy masculinity and relationships. The futures of our youth and our state are on the line—please find out how you can help at www.ricadv.org.

    Rhode Island Domestic Violence Resources:

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

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  • 2/5/15 - Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Murder of Robin Dube and Suicide of Michael Dube


    By Judith Earle, Executive Director, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, and Deborah DeBare, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence


    We are deeply saddened by the death of Robin Dube and the suicide of her husband Michael Dube, who horrifically murdered his wife before taking his own life in North Providence earlier this week.

    Robin Dube reportedly had a disability and, according to neighbors, had not been outside of her home for some time. People with disabilities, including mental illness, and Deaf people are at greater risk for domestic violence than the general population. Mobility and accessibility barriers can stop them from reporting violence, seeking safety, or attempting to end their abusive relationships.

    Mobility and accessibility barriers can also result in the victim becoming isolated from their communities. Disability advocates know that the more isolated a person with a disability is, the greater their chances of being a victim of domestic violence. Abusive partners often seek to control their victims by isolating them, severing their ties to outside support and resources so that they become extremely dependent on their abusers. People with disabilities who are isolated may fear losing vital support from their primary caregiver who is also their abuser.

    To help people with disabilities stay safe, it is important to ensure that they can participate in and access their communities. The more ties they have to neighbors and friends, the less likely they are to become victims of abuse; if they are being abused, the more options they have for receiving support and ending their relationship. For all of these reasons, being connected to others can be a critical lifeline to people with disabilities who are being abused.

    The North Providence police have stated that this tragedy was an “isolated incident” that poses “no danger to the public” and “no risk to the community.” These types of statements can reinforce a false sense of security that stems from seeing domestic violence as a private matter, one that “doesn’t happen in my neighborhood.” But we know that domestic violence occurs every day in every community in Rhode Island. According to the Rhode Island Supreme Court Domestic Violence Training and Monitoring Unit, in 2012 in North Providence, 382 domestic violence calls were made to the police, 84 where children were present, and 212 domestic violence arrests were made.

    As with this case, people are often completely shocked that something so terrible could happen where they live, but 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes—these are people who live only a few houses down from us, work a few desks over, or whose children go to school with ours. They are our neighbors, friends, family, and coworkers, and they deserve to be acknowledged, for our communities to recognize that this problem affects us all. We can each do our part to help those experiencing abuse and to create a world in which our neighbors and loved ones are safe. Even the most basic steps can help.

    The Ocean State Center for Independent Living (OSCIL) provides a range of services to enhance the quality of life of Rhode Islanders with disabilities, break down barriers, increase access in the home and community, and promote integration into the community. For more information, visit www.oscil.org. Caregivers can contact OSCIL for information about available support groups. They can also visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for caregiving tips and resources (www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/family.html).

    NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Rhode Island provides support, advocacy, and education to all those whose lives are touched by mental illness and can be reached at 401-331-3060.

    Rhode Island Domestic Violence Resources:

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

    For additional resources on how to help someone in an abusive relationship, visit www.ricadv.org or call the statewide Helpline.

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