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The NFL and Social Change: Let’s Continue the Conversation to End Domestic Violence

Friday, September 12, 2014

The level of media attention and public outcry around the Ray Rice case of domestic violence is astonishing. We have not seen this level of public dialogue about domestic violence since the O.J. Simpson trial over 20 years ago. Is it just a coincidence that both cases involved the world of the National Football League and its superstar heroes?

The current public discourse about domestic violence is complex, and there are many layers to peel back to get at the core of the issue. It is not simply about one individual’s assault on his fiancée. It is not simply about an institution’s policy to implement weak sanctions, or a decision to strengthen that policy. It is not about why it is so difficult for victims to simply leave an abusive situation. It is also not simply about the graphic evidence of a brutal assault shown in video footage. No, it is much more complex than any of these elements.

For the first time in over two decades, people seem to be universally talking openly about domestic violence – at their dinner tables, at the water cooler, with their friends, families and coworkers. Everyone has an opinion. But it is important to take a step back and realize that this public conversation involves much more than initially meets the eye.

It is true that the world of the NFL, and football culture in general, exalts physical dominance as a virtue. And there is growing research that domestic violence is an even more common problem among football players than it is in the general population. However, it is illogical to draw a conclusion that football is to blame for domestic violence, just as it is shortsighted to think that punishing one football player for one incident, or firing a Commissioner for neglecting to implement more severe policies sooner, will change the predominant cultural norms that perpetuate domestic violence in our society. The reality is that domestic violence exists not only in families where there are football players, but in all types of families. It is estimated that 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence during their lifetimes, more than 12 million people in the United States per year. In Rhode Island, nearly 10,000 people sought domestic violence victim services in 2013.

As a result, we need to focus on shifting cultural norms that accept or tolerate domestic abuse. If we don’t focus on this kind of social change, we will be back here in another 20 years, expressing outrage, yet again, over another high profile case as if it is the first time it has happened.

We should not need to see a video to be outraged by the prevalence and severity of domestic violence. The words and experiences of survivors speak for themselves. We shouldn’t rush to point fingers as if blaming someone for this assault will solve the epidemic of domestic violence that exists in our communities. Instead, we must be catapulted to action by the events and discussions in the media over the past few weeks. To encourage men to step up, raise this issue, and have difficult conversations among other men about masculinity and violence. To acknowledge the intersections of our discourse with race and gender oppression. To create opportunities for communities to get involved, for bystanders to learn how to intervene effectively, and for institutions to reflect on and strengthen their policies around domestic violence.

And through it all, we must never forget that today, here in Rhode Island, there are 57 victims of domestic violence in shelters because their homes are not safe. Every one of them, and the dozens more who called the Helpline looking for services this week, deserve our full effort to change society so that all of our institutions, not just the NFL, send a strong message that domestic violence will not be tolerated.

Help is available in Rhode Island. Our six local member agencies provide a wide range of services for victims, including 24-hour hotline support and emergency shelter. Call the statewide Helpline at 800-494-8100 for more information. As a bystander, there are many ways to get involved. To learn more about domestic violence and how to take action to end it, visit or call us at 401-467-9940. If you see someone being hurt, call 911 immediately.


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



The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence Celebrates 35 Years of Progress in the Movement to End Domestic Violence

The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence Celebrates 35 Years of Progress in the Movement to End Domestic Violence

Lisa Leslie, WNBA star, four-time Olympic gold medalist, and supporter of the national NO MORE campaign against domestic violence, joins the RICADV for a celebratory luncheon and VIP reception

Dave's Marketplace leads the RI business community as a champion sponsor of the RICADV's work to end domestic violence

[PROVIDENCE - August 4, 2014] This year, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) celebrates 35 years of progress and leadership in the movement to end domestic violence. The statewide nonprofit will hold its anniversary celebration on Thursday, October 9, at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, hosted by Dan Jaehnig, WJAR NBC 10 News, and featuring special guest Lisa Leslie, WNBA legend, multiple MVP honoree, four-time Olympic gold medalist and supporter of the national NO MORE campaign against domestic violence.

"We are thrilled to have Lisa Leslie joining us as our guest of honor for this celebration. Lisa believes in supporting young women in sports because getting involved in athletics can encourage them to make healthy choices and can foster their future health and success. We know that engaging in sports often increases self-esteem, enhances social support networks and cultivates healthy lifestyles, decreasing some of the risk factors for domestic violence. We cannot wait to meet Lisa Leslie, an amazing role model not only for youth but for people of all ages. We invite Rhode Islanders to join us on this special day," said Deborah DeBare, Executive Director of the RICADV.

For decades, the RICADV has been a leader in the movement to end domestic violence, with its six local member agencies serving approximately 10,000 victims of domestic abuse every year and providing prevention and education services to about 9,000 youth annually. As the movement continues to evolve, advocates now know that domestic violence is a preventable public health issue – but ending domestic violence will take community involvement.

The RICADV hopes that both individuals and organizations will join in this milestone celebration and is grateful for the generous support of business partners such as Dave's Marketplace, the event's Champion Sponsor, and others such as the Providence Journal Charitable Foundation, Alex and Ani Charity By Design, and Nixon Peabody.

"Dave's Marketplace has supported the vital work of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence throughout the years and we are delighted to join them in celebrating this significant milestone. Healthy families and communities are the core values of both of our organizations and we look forward to partnering with them as we continue to move the work forward in realizing that goal," said Renee Hughes, Community Relations Director for Dave's Marketplace.

"We are very proud of the strides we've made over recent decades to protect victims and hold abusers accountable," DeBare said. "We hope that community members will join us in celebrating how far we've come and signaling our vision for the future, where our families no longer suffer and our communities are safe."

Those interested can get involved by purchasing tickets to the event, ad space in the event program book, or both. Those who cannot attend are encouraged to make a donation to sponsor the attendance of a survivor. Corporate sponsorships are still available. For more information about tickets, sponsorship, and program advertisement, visit or contact Zulma Garcia, RICADV, at 401-467-9940 or 




Confreda Greenhouses & Farms Hosts Its Annual Ladies Night Out on July 24 to Benefit the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV)

A $20 donation at the door will cover a night filled with pampering treatments, delicious samples from Confreda's Farmer's Market, and more




[Providence, RI – July 10, 2014] Confreda Greenhouses & Farms is hosting its annual Ladies Night Out on Thursday, July 24, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Guests will make a $20 donation at the door for a night filled with relaxing pampering treatments, delectable samples from the Confreda Farmer's Market and local wineries, a farm tour, and much more! All proceeds will benefit the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV).

Connected neighborhoods help prevent domestic violence, and this event continues to bring Rhode Islanders together each year to get to know one another and support local businesses. The RICADV is very grateful to Confreda Greenhouses & Farms for contributing to the movement to end domestic violence in Rhode Island, not only by organizing this annual event but also through its commitment to safe communities and to the well-being of current and future generations, exemplified by its mission and practices.

Come spend a summer night in great company at the beautiful Confreda Greenhouses & Farms, located at 2150 Scituate Avenue in Cranston, RI. Enter to win raffle items and sample fresh local food and wine, all while supporting the RICADV and helping to cultivate healthy communities.

About Confreda Greenhouses & Farms:

Confreda Greenhouses & Farms represents one of the oldest and largest commercial vegetable farms in Rhode Island. Farming since 1922, the Confreda family works to provide its customers with high quality produce and a family farm experience. Confreda Greenhouses & Farms shows its commitment to the consumer through nutrition and safety initiatives, including a no-GMO policy, and supports agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, diverse ecosystems, and blossoming communities of people. For more information, visit

About the RICADV:

The purpose of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is to eliminate domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's mission is to support and enhance the work of its six member agencies and to provide leadership on the issue of domestic violence.

The RICADV's member agencies include 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. The member 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.


This June, TEN MEN are Saying “Your Voice Matters” – Male Allies of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence Work to Build Safe and Healthy Communities

TEN MEN's broadcast public service announcements will air throughout the month, beginning Monday, June 9

[Providence, RI – June 6, 2014] Everyone can play a role in ending domestic violence in Rhode Island. Men can be especially effective agents of this social change. The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence will launch its Men’s Campaign the week of June 9 with its group of male allies in RI, TEN MEN, at the center.

Domestic violence is not just a women’s issue, and TEN MEN are inviting all Rhode Island men to get involved. The group’s television public service announcement will air on Cox throughout the month. The commercial features the following TEN MEN members addressing domestic violence in their respective organizations, workplaces that represent different sectors of the community and address the need for community-level, as well as individual, responses to the issue of domestic violence:

    • Jay Gotra, CEO, Alliance Security
    • John Youte, Director of Outreach, Admissions and Student Services, Year Up
    • Reverend Don Anderson, Rhode Island State Council of Churches

Other current and previous TEN MEN members also appear in the television PSA, including:

    • Dr. Scott Walker, Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Ob-Gyn Associates
    • Rafael Zapata, Associate Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Office of Institutional Diversity, Providence College
    • Edgar Moya, Account Executive, WRIW Telemundo Providence
    • Ralph Bresslauer (2012 member)
    • Ben Ellcome (2012 member)

TEN MEN’s radio public service announcement, voiced by member Rilwan Feyisitan, Jr., Director of Program Operations for the Community Action Partnership of Providence (CAPP), will air in English on WHJY and WEEI, with the Spanish PSA airing on Latina 100.3FM.

Every Rhode Islander has the responsibility – and the ability – to create safe and healthy communities where domestic violence no longer exists. This year’s TEN MEN members designed the PSAs to speak to their peers – other men in Rhode Island – as well as their neighbors and loved ones about the need for everyone to stand up against domestic violence. The campaign arrives just in time for Father’s Day, which is significant to the theme of the television and radio spots this year.

RICADV Receives Best Practices Communications Award

Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence Receives Best Practices Communications Award



[Providence, RI – June 6, 2014] The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) on Wednesday received the Rhode Island Foundation's Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence Communications Award for the "KNOW MORE" public awareness and education campaign, which uses traditional and new media strategies to target specialized populations including men, youth, and the Latino community.

"We are excited to receive this recognition; raising public awareness about domestic violence, with a focus on changing social attitudes and engaging the community, is a critical part of our mission and we know that this award will help us continue leading efforts to end domestic violence. Our communication's team has done a remarkable job incorporating innovative and contemporary strategies into each facet of our work, and we know that this approach is going to make a difference in creating a better and safer Rhode Island community," said Deborah DeBare, RICADV's executive director.

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