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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 20, 2013
RICADV celebrates at State House and thanks Senate President M. Teresa Paiva–Weed and Speaker Gordon D. Fox
Community members did not let Victims of Domestic Violence stand alone.
[Providence, R.I.] The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV), SOAR (Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships), its member agencies that run the statewide Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program (Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, and Women’s Resource Center), partners, and members of the community gathered at the State House today to celebrate the restored funding for the Court Advocacy Program and to thank Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed and Speaker Gordon D. Fox for their part in restoring $100,000 in funding to this vital program that saves lives. They were also invited to speak.
“It is critical that victims of Domestic Violence have supportive services throughout the law enforcement and judicial process. By adding $100,000 in the state budget for advocacy in the Court, we are further assisting victims who truly need a helping hand,” said Speaker Gordon D. Fox.
The agencies had been forced to close the offices on Mondays because of years of severe funding cuts to the program; however, with this funding, they will be able to resume services for victims of Domestic Violence.“Victims go to court overwhelmed and in crisis; they need help navigating complex judicial systems and they need an advocate who will be in their corner. This restored funding lets victims of Domestic Violence know they can count on the Court Advocacy Program to guide them in a time of great need—a critical component in their route to safety from abuse. We want to thank Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed and Speaker Gordon Fox for hearing this message and responding. And, we especially thank all of our allies and supporters who participated in our efforts to protect this vital program and victims of Domestic Violence. They did not stand alone,” said Deborah DeBare, Executive Director of RICADV.
The community rallying in support of the Court Advocacy Program and support from legislators helped to get the message heard about how critical these services are. These are the kind of actions that propel RICADV’s movement to end Domestic Violence in RI and the State’s support is paramount; the organization is extremely grateful for this outcome for victims of Domestic Violence and their Court Advocates.
President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva-Weed said, “Court advocates help crime victims during a very vulnerable time. The services provided through the Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program help victims of abuse successfully navigate an unfamiliar judicial process and get through a scary and difficult period in their lives. These funds will help the advocates fulfill their vital mission of providing services and support to victims of Domestic Violence.”
About The Court Advocacy Program:
Every year since 1988, victims of domestic violence have been able to receive assistance and services from the Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program. Court advocates provide a lifeline to victims of domestic violence in the midst of abusive situations with a range of services and support.The statewide program’s court advocates provide services in every city in Rhode Island through the four regional courthouses — Garrahy, Noel, McGrath and Murray. As set forth by the law, these advocates help victims navigate the legal system by educating them about their rights and assisting them in securing those rights; informing victims of the availability of protective orders and helping them obtain them as appropriate; and referring them to vital social services. These are all critical steps in increasing victim safety—steps that can be overwhelming to those in crisis with no legal background.In 2012, the courts had more than 8,000 victims of domestic violence seeking advocacy services. This included more than 3,000 civil protective orders and 5,000 criminal proceedings.