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The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence Proudly Welcomes WNBA Legend Lisa Leslie to Rhode Island to Celebrate Its 35th Anniversary

Regarding the domestic violence murder-suicide of Natasha Marshall and Federico Rico in Pawtucket, R.I.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, December 6, 2012
CONTACT: Cristina Williams at RICADV: (401) 467-9940; Cell: (917) 940-3729

Statement by Deborah DeBare, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Linda Impagliazzo, Executive Director of the Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center

"First and foremost, our hearts go out to the family, friends and community of Natasha Marshall. Though not much has yet been released about the murder committed against her by her live-in boyfriend Federico Rico, her death is a stark reminder that we still have a long way to go to achieve a Rhode Island that is free of domestic violence in our homes and in our communities."

"In a week where much attention has been placed on NFL player Jovan Belcher, the murder he committed against his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, his motives, injuries and subsequent suicide, this local case reminds us that domestic violence can happen anywhere – from the NFL field to a Pawtucket apartment. Ultimately, these cases are both about the loss of life tied to an escalation of domestic violence. Regardless of the circumstances, there is never an excuse for abuse. We must be sure to call murder-suicides what they are: the ultimate act of domestic violence."

"Domestic violence escalates to the point of murder because our system has failed to either keep a victim safe or hold an abuser accountable. Unfortunately, when an abuser murders his partner, the tragedy is often incorrectly portrayed as an unintentional "crime of passion" caused by the man's overwhelming love for the woman or the abuser is said to "have snapped" in response to a situation."

"In reality, at the very heart of domestic violence is the belief by the abuser that he or she is entitled to control his or her partner. Understanding this teaches us that perpetrators don't just snap or lose their temper; their violence escalates as their control begins to erode. Murder is the ultimate expression of the abuser's need to control his partner's behavior."

"This tragedy reminds us that even when there is not an official police record of domestic violence, abuse can exist and there are usually 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 having called the police."

"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 backgrounds and professions. Domestic violence happens in every community and no one is immune to it. And because we cannot hold the batterer accountable in murder-suicide domestic violence cases, we must hold ourselves accountable as a community."

"Every day in the United States, an average of three women are killed by their intimate partners. In Rhode Island, between 2001 and 2011, 82 people died as a result of domestic violence. Between 2010 and 2011 alone, 20 of those deaths occurred. This year there have been three confirmed domestic violence deaths—two of them were murder-suicides. In 2011, there were four domestic violence deaths—three of those cases were murder-suicides. In addition, there are more than 10,000 victims who seek services yearly for domestic violence related issues. The good news is that through community involvement and education we can prevent those cases from escalating."

"Each of us has a duty to stop domestic violence in Rhode Island—together we can end it. There are six local domestic violence agencies in our state that provide a wide array of services, including 24 hour hotline support, emergency shelter, support groups and assistance with the legal system. We urge all Rhode Islanders to remember that if they hear or see someone being hurt to call 911 immediately. And, if they or someone they know needs support to call the statewide Helpline at 800-494-8100."