Communications

Uplifting domestic violence awareness through communications

Latest News

  • Sharing the latest news in DV prevention and awareness. 
  • We respond to domestic violence homicides, and high-profile cases in the news, in order to raise up the voices and experiences of survivors, honor the lives lost, and ensure media coverage is accurate, sensitive, and well-informed.

Public Awareness Campaigns

We conduct public awareness campaigns throughout the year to keep the issue of domestic violence visible in our state and to engage Rhode Islanders in saying “No More!” Together, we can end domestic violence.

For Press/Media

At the RICADV, we work with the media to raise awareness about domestic violence, the services and resources available, and the ways our communities can get involved to help prevent and end abuse.

 

Media Contact:

Alicia Mickelson
Director of Communications 
Tel: 401.467.9940
alicia@ricadv.org

If you are a member of the media on deadline and are reaching out before or after 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon. – Fri. or on a weekend, please contact the state Helpline: 1-800-494-8100

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Latest News

Statement regarding the domestic violence murder of Jocelyn DoCouto

By Toni Marie Roderick, Executive Director of Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Peg Langhammer, Executive Director of Day One, and Lucy Rios, Executive Director of Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

PAWTUCKET, R.I., Jan. 22, 2024 – We are devastated that this past Friday, a beloved Rhode Island community member, 33-year-old Jocelyn DoCouto, was shot and killed by her 34-year-old ex-boyfriend, Michael Fernandes, in a domestic violence homicide.

Jocelyn was a mother, a friend, a family member, and a Rhode Island resident who was well-known in the community as an entrepreneur and influencer. She was also a community leader and was at the forefront of legislative action to improve laws to make the braiding profession more equitable. Her legacy will live on forever. Day One Executive Director Peg Langhammer shared, “During this profoundly challenging time, our hearts are heavy with grief as we come to terms with the tragic loss of our esteemed staff member, Jocelyn. Jocelyn was not just a colleague but a beloved mentor to the youth of Rhode Island, providing invaluable support to those who have been victims or are at risk of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC).”

Domestic violence, as with sexual violence, can impact anyone in our communities. When such horrific violence takes the life of one of our community members, we work to uplift the ways that our state and communities could better protect victims and prevent these incidents. In this case, the perpetrator had a documented history of domestic violence. Earlier this month, he was arrested for breaking and entering, a dangerous stalking behavior. The perpetrator is being charged with multiple counts related to this homicide, including possession of a high-capacity magazine – a deadly firearm that is now illegal in Rhode Island. A domestic violence perpetrator having access to a gun increases the risk that the victim will be killed by five times.

The time after a victim ends an abusive relationship is also one of the most dangerous periods. Perpetrators of domestic violence will often escalate their tactics of abuse as they start to lose control over the victim. Our state systems must do more to screen for these known lethality risk factors, such as access to firearms, stalking, estrangement, and prior domestic violence history. The courts, law enforcement, and prosecutors must do more to ensure domestic violence defendants surrender their firearms as early as possible in the proceedings. Strengthening our state systems in these ways can save lives. A specialized domestic violence court in Rhode Island could enhance and enforce these critical screenings and measures, with specially trained staff who understand the dynamics and dangers of domestic violence.

Our mission to end domestic abuse and break the cycle of violence calls on us to envision a world without domestic violence, and what it will take to create that world. We must empower our communities to lead. We must invest in vital community needs, such as safe, affordable housing. We must explore non-carceral forms of accountability, healing, and safety. We believe violence can be prevented before it starts, when our communities are supported, connected, equitable, and just.

If you or someone you care about needs support, please reach out to the Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center (BVAC), available 24/7 for support, resources, and counseling. Contact the Helpline at 800-494-8100 and via the online chat at www.bvacri.org or call BVAC directly at 401-723-3057.

The Nonviolence Institute is another resource for community members in need of support: https://www.nonviolenceinstitute.org, call 401-785-2320, or email at info@nonviolenceinstitute.org.

For support in speaking with children about this violence and loss of life, visit this resource that provides information about how to talk about trauma and violence with children.  https://www.mainehealth.org/care-services/pediatric-care-child-health/adverse-childhood-experiences-trauma/talking-children-about-trauma

For more information about resources available for survivors of domestic violence and how you can help, visit our website at www.ricadv.org. If you or someone you know needs assistance, call the statewide confidential 24/7 RI Victims of Crime Helpline at 1-800-494-8100. The Helpline is also available via online chat at www.ricadv.org.

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

About Day One: 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.

Our comprehensive services include:

  • 24-hour Helpline and legal advocacy
  • Children’s Advocacy Center
  • Adult Advocacy
  • Programs for victims of Human Trafficking
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Professional training and consultation
  • Prevention education workshops

From sexual assault on college campuses to the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), Day One is addressing the issues that are affecting Rhode Island communities and leading the effort to provide real solutions for both victims and those at risk.

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 and to provide statewide leadership on the issue. The organization strives to create justice for victims and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV’s network of ten 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. And for more information about the RICADV, call us at 401-467-9940 or visit us online at www.ricadv.org.

2023 Releases and Statements

Statements

Statement regarding the domestic violence murder of Gina Johnson

By Michelle LePage, executive director, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, and Lucy Rios, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I., December 14, 2023 –We express deep sorrow and condolences to the friends and family of Gina Johnson, a 59-year-old South Kingstown resident.

Yesterday, Gina Johnson’s life was taken within the confines of her own home in a senseless act of domestic violence homicide by her husband, 62-year-old Keith Johnson.

Gina was a beloved member of the South Kingstown community with a vibrant life and dreams for her future. She leaves behind grieving family members and friends who are grappling with the profound loss caused by this horrific incident. The Domestic Violence advocacy community in Rhode Island extends its deepest sympathies to her family and loved ones.

This heartbreaking incident serves as a stark reminder of the pervasive issue of domestic violence and the urgent need for increased awareness, prevention, and support for those affected. Domestic violence occurs across the lifespan and in every community in Rhode Island. Six out of the seven domestic violence homicides that have occurred in Rhode Island this year have involved victims aged 59 or older.

Domestic violence remains a pervasive issue affecting individuals across all walks of life. We urge community members to join us in taking a stand against domestic violence and fostering an environment where everyone feels safe and protected.

Victims in need of support and assistance in the Washington County area can contact the Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County (DVRC) at 401-782-3990 or visit https://dvrcsc.org/ for resources and information on domestic violence prevention. The DVRC is dedicated to both preventing and responding to domestic violence by working to change the social conditions, beliefs, and social actions that perpetuate abuse.

Community members will be holding a vigil to honor Gina. Please check the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/ricadv for updated information.

For more information about resources available for survivors and how you can help, visit our website at www.ricadv.org. If you or someone you know needs assistance, please call the statewide confidential 24/7 RI Victims of Crime Helpline at 1-800-494-8100. The Helpline is also available via online chat at www.ricadv.org.

About DVRC: Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County (DVRC) is a nonprofit agency that serves the nine towns in Washington County with its main office at 61 Main Street, Wakefield, RI.  DVRC has worked since 1978 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. DVRC works collaboratively to offer safety, support, advocacy, education and a network of services to the residents of Washington County and is dedicated to both preventing and responding to domestic violence by working to change the social conditions, beliefs and social actions that perpetuate abuse. Visit our website for additional information on all of our services: www.dvrcsc.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 and to provide statewide leadership on the issue. The organization strives to create justice for victims and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV’s network of ten 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. And for more information about the RICADV, call us at 401-467-9940 or visit us online at www.ricadv.org.

Statement regarding the domestic violence murder of Mary Melendez

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

PAWTUCKET, R.I., September 26, 2023 – We are devastated about the domestic violence homicide that took place in Rhode Island over the weekend. On Saturday, Mary Melendez, a 53-year-old Pawtucket community member, was stabbed in her home by her 28-year-old daughter, Sharita Watkins, and pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital. Mary had a full life with so much ahead of her. We grieve along with her friends, family, and the entire Pawtucket community.

Tragically, this is the third domestic violence homicide in Rhode Island this year that involves a parent being killed by their adult child. Domestic abuse doesn’t always involve intimate partners. Sometimes it is committed by a family member or roommate, and too often family violence can become lethal.

This incident is a stark reminder of how much work there is to do to prevent further loss of life, and why public awareness is so important to break the cycle of violence. Every year during Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, we spend the month raising awareness about the warning signs of abuse, where and how to access resources, and ways to support victims and survivors.

Domestic violence happens in every city and town in Rhode Island. Every Rhode Islander has a role to play in preventing this type of violence. Each of us can help by checking in on friends, family, and neighbors, and being there for one another.

For more information about resources available for survivors and how you can help, visit our website at www.ricadv.org. If you or someone you know needs assistance, please call the statewide confidential 24/7 RI Victims of Crime Helpline at 1-800-494-8100. The Helpline is also available via online chat at www.ricadv.org.

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

About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island and to provide statewide leadership on the issue. The organization strives to create justice for victims and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV’s network of ten 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. And for more information about the RICADV, call us at 401-467-9940 or visit us online at www.ricadv.org.

Statement Regarding the Attempted Domestic Violence Murder of Woonsocket Woman

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

WOONSOCKET, R.I., July 31, 2023 – Early this morning, a 34-year-old woman was shot in her home by her 52-year-old husband, Walter Lopez. Her two children, ages three and twenty, were in the home at the time of the shooting. Our deep concern goes out to her and her family in the wake of this horrendous act of violence. We extend to her and her loved ones our care for her well-being and hope for her recovery.

Lopez turned the gun on himself after shooting his wife and has been pronounced dead. When gun violence occurs, it impacts the entire community. Our hearts go out to the community members of Woonsocket as they are processing this preventable, traumatic event.

We ask our community to remember the children who are impacted by this violence. Children who witness domestic violence need support and trauma-informed care from the systems that respond, including law enforcement and family services which can support children’s resilience and well-being. Research shows that supportive, nurturing family relationships can promote positive outcomes for children exposed to domestic abuse.1 Making sure children remain in the care of the non-abusive parent or the non-offending parent’s family members as systems respond to domestic violence can mitigate the impacts of trauma.

Domestic violence is an ongoing source of pain and trauma for our families, neighbors, and children. Economic and social safety nets can help decrease the risk for domestic violence in our communities. Data shows that domestic violence occurs in every city and town in Rhode Island. As noted in our reportDomestic Violence Homicides in Rhode Island 2016-2020, domestic violence homicide incidents occurred in 11 different cities and towns, with Woonsocket having the highest rate at 9.25 per 100,000 population. Our policymakers and community leaders can improve policies that increase economic stability which will promote safe, connected communities where healthy relationships flourish. We must also invest in local resources that support people to thrive, such as affordable housing, job opportunities, safe schools, and access to basic needs such as food and healthcare.

The presence of a firearm plays a significant role in escalating domestic violence to a lethal level. Women in abusive relationships are five times more likely to be killed if the abusive partner has access to a firearm. Rhode Island can prevent devastating gun violence by strengthening protective gun laws and enforcing the protections we already have in place.

Domestic abuse has harmful long-lasting ripple effects on our families, communities, and children’s futures. With an increased investment and focus on trauma-informed responses and prevention strategies, we can build a Rhode Island where our communities are cared for, and all people are safe.

For more information on prevention and how to help children who witness domestic violence, visit our website at www.ricadv.org. If you or someone you know needs assistance, please call the statewide confidential 24/7 RI Victims of Crime Helpline at 1-800-494-8100. The Helpline is also available via online chat at www.ricadv.org.

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

About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island and to provide statewide leadership on the issue. The organization strives to create justice for victims and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV’s network of ten 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. And for more information about the RICADV, call us at 401-467-9940 or visit us online at www.ricadv.org.

1 Development Services Group, Inc., and Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2015). Promoting protective factors for children exposed to domestic violence: A guide for practitioners. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubpdfs/guide_domesticviolence.pdf

Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Murder of Patricia Fasan

By Toni Marie Gomes, executive director, Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, and Krista D’Amico, deputy director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

PAWTUCKET, R.I., June 6, 2023 – We are deeply hurting to know another life has been stolen by domestic violence homicide in Rhode Island, with the devastating murder of 59-year-old Patricia Fasan of Pawtucket. Patricia was living as a roommate with her ex-boyfriend, 63-year-old Guy Williams. Yesterday, Williams threw her from a window, and she later died from her injuries. It is heart-wrenching that this is the fifth domestic violence homicide to occur this year in our state. Each of the other four victims were over the age of 60; Patricia was 59.

Patricia deserved to be safe in her home. It is a tragedy that she could not live her life in peace and with the safety she deserved. Our hearts are with Patricia’s family, her friends, and the entire Pawtucket community. As we process our grief, we also want to honor Patricia’s life. This horrendous act of violence does not define her, and we uplift the beloved relative, friend, and community member Patricia was to so many.

Victims of domestic violence face many barriers to leaving an abusive relationship. One significant obstacle is not being able to find or afford safe housing. Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness because victims must often choose between staying safe or staying sheltered.

The current housing crisis in Rhode Island means that the lack of safe, affordable housing is one of the greatest barriers to safety for survivors in our state. The NNEDV’s Annual Domestic Violence Counts Report indicates that in a single day in Rhode Island in 2022, survivors made 49 requests for services that programs could not meet because they did not have the resources. Approximately 69% of these unmet requests were for emergency shelter, hotels, motels, and other housing. This is why the RICADV continues to advocate alongside our coalition partners to increase housing options and resources for victims and survivors.

Abuse often does not end just because the relationship has ended. In fact, the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence is after they end, or attempt to end, the relationship with the abuser. The abuser is losing power and control and may escalate their violence as a result. When we learn that someone we know is experiencing abuse or living in fear, we can support their choices on how to best stay safe, and provide options to decrease isolation and increase connection and economic security. We all have a role to play in creating a safe and just Rhode Island.

For more information about resources available for survivors and how you can help, visit our website at www.ricadv.org. If you or someone you know needs assistance, please call the statewide confidential 24/7 RI Victims of Crime Helpline at 1-800-494-8100. The Helpline is also available via online chat at www.ricadv.org.

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

About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island and to provide statewide leadership on the issue. The organization strives to create justice for victims and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV’s network of ten 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. And for more information about the RICADV, call us at 401-467-9940 or visit us online at www.ricadv.org.

Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Murder of Janet Harrison

Krista D’Amico, Deputy Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

JOHNSTON, R.I., May 25th, 2023 – We mourn the death of Janet Harrison, an 83-year-old Johnston community member who was killed in a domestic violence homicide yesterday. She was shot and killed by her son, James Harrison, in a triple shooting that claimed two lives. We grieve the loss of life of Janet’s neighbor, Thomas “TJ” May, who was also killed in the incident.

Janet had family and friends who loved her. She had a life full of achievements, hopes and dreams, all of which were lost due to this heinous act of gun violence. The murder of Janet Harrison is the fourth domestic violence homicide to occur in Rhode Island this year. All four incidents involved a victim over the age of 60.

Our hearts go out to Janet and TJ’s loved ones as they process this profound loss. We are devastated that TJ’s 15-year-old daughter was shot and injured in the incident, making her a victim and a witness of this horrendous act of violence.

When guns are involved, domestic violence becomes much more lethal. In a study of gun violence crimes in the U.S. from 2009 to 2016, over half, or 54% of mass shootings were related to domestic violence or family violence. Between 2016 and 2020, 42% of domestic violence homicides in Rhode Island involved firearms. Rhode Island needs more protective gun safety laws to prevent these tragedies. The RICADV, along with our violence prevention partners, remains committed to advocating for gun safety measures. This includes supporting the safe storage legislation and the assault weapons ban to protect victims of domestic violence and our community members.

Domestic abuse has damaging ripple effects, including the harmful ways it can affect children who witness violence or who lose parents or other loved ones to domestic violence. These impacts often last well into adulthood. We all deserve healing and safety. Our communities should be safe places free from violence where our families and children can grow and thrive.

Advocates at the RICADV member agencies can provide confidential support and resources for those impacted by domestic violence including children who witness violence, such as counseling services. Court advocates can also assist victims in applying for restraining orders, which can help to disarm violent abusers who have access to guns. To find a listing of the RICADV network of member agencies or to be put in contact with one in your area, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour confidential support and information at 800-494-8100 or visit us online at www.ricadv.org.

If you suspect elder abuse: you can learn more about the signs at www.oha.ri.gov and call 401-462-0555 to file an anonymous report with the RI Office of Healthy Aging.

About the EBCC: The Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center provides wraparound services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including crisis hotline, safety planning, advocacy at the Kent County Courthouse, law enforcement advocacy, emergency safe shelter, transitional and permanent supportive housing opportunities, specialized counseling, support groups for victims as well as for family members, case management to connect clients to housing and other basic needs, and financial literacy classes.  All services, including counseling, are offered at no cost to clients.  EBCC’s focused service area is Central Rhode Island (Warwick, West Warwick, Coventry, West Greenwich, East Greenwich, Cranston, North Providence, Johnston, Scituate and Foster as well as all other towns whose cases are heard at Kent) but clients statewide can access services at EBCC if that is safer for them.  Please call 401-738-1700, email info@ebchouse.org or visit www.ebccenter.org for services and more information.

About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island and to provide statewide leadership on the issue. The organization strives to create justice for victims and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV’s network of ten 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. And for more information about the RICADV, call us at 401-467-9940 or visit us online at www.ricadv.org.

Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Murder of Leila Duarte Da Luz

Lucy Rios, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

COVENTRY, R.I., May 10, 2023 – Today, we honor the life and bear witness to the devastating loss of 34-year-old Leila Patricia Duarte Da Luz. We extend our deepest heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Leila. Leila was two months pregnant when she was killed in a domestic violence homicide. Her body was found in Carbuncle Pond in Coventry, RI, in December 2022. Gary Gromkiewicz, the father of the baby Leila was carrying, and Michael Lambert, a second suspect, have been charged with her murder.

Leila was a much beloved daughter, sister, and friend. She studied business law and had her entire life ahead of her, filled with possibility, dreams, and accomplishments. During a time that should have been full of hope and care, Leila’s life was taken from her. The leading cause of death for pregnant women in the United States is domestic violence homicide.1 Pregnancy and the birth of a child can cause an abusive partner to escalate their violence, as they may feel they are losing power and control. A 2021 study of maternal deaths in the U.S. found that women are more than twice as likely to die from homicide during pregnancy than from other pregnancy-related health issues.2 It is critical for health care providers, including doctors, nurses, doulas, and community health workers, to have the training and policies in place to screen for and respond to domestic violence among the people they serve.

The RI state police did not release Leila’s name for nine weeks. It was Leila’s family and close friend who reached out to the media to share her identity, her life, and their story to share their love for their friend and family member. Even now, we are seeing media coverage that is limiting their description of Leila to “a pregnant woman.” It is well documented that women of color do not receive the same amount or type of media coverage and attention when they go missing or other tragedies happen to them.3 Leila’s name deserves to be heard and acknowledged, honored, and treated with respect, as we would with any victim of violence in Rhode Island. Furthermore, research shows women of color are significantly more likely to experience domestic violence in their lifetime.4 We must uplift and center the experiences of those who are disproportionately impacted by domestic violence as we work to raise awareness, support victims, and end abuse.

We all must act to prevent domestic violence before it happens and increase safety for survivors. To find information about the RICADV’s network of member agencies or connect with the resources in your area, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour confidential support and information at 1-800-494-8100 or visit us online at www.ricadv.org. The Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, a member agency of the RICADV, serves the town of Coventry. Advocates are available to provide support and resources to victims and survivors of domestic violence. For more information, visit www.ebccenter.org.

1 Lawn, R. B. & Koenen, K.C. Homicide is a leading cause of death for pregnant women in U.S. BMJ 2022; 379. https://www.bmj.com/content/379/bmj.o2499.full

2 Wallace, M., Gillispie-Bell, V., Cruz, K., Davis, K., & Vilda, D. Homicide during pregnancy and the postpartum period in the United States, 2018-2019. Obstet Gynecol 2021; 138(5):762-769. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34619735

3 Franklin, J. (December 2022). Racial bias affects media coverage of missing people. NPR. Retrieved at https://www.npr.org/2022/12/05/1137193397/missing-persons-of-color-news-coverage-disparities.

4 An Overview of Intimate Partner Violence in the United States – 2010 Findings. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Retrieved at https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/ipv-nisvs-factsheet-v5-a.pdf.

About the EBCC: The Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center provides wraparound services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including crisis hotline, safety planning, advocacy at the Kent County Courthouse, law enforcement advocacy, emergency safe shelter, transitional and permanent supportive housing opportunities, specialized counseling, support groups for victims as well as for family members, case management to connect clients to housing and other basic needs, and financial literacy classes.  All services, including counseling, are offered at no cost to clients.  EBCC’s focused service area is Central Rhode Island (Warwick, West Warwick, Coventry, West Greenwich, East Greenwich, Cranston, North Providence, Johnston, Scituate and Foster as well as all other towns whose cases are heard at Kent) but clients statewide can access services at EBCC if that is safer for them.  Please call 401-738-1700, email info@ebchouse.org or visit www.ebccenter.org for services and more information.

About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island and to provide statewide leadership on the issue. The organization strives to create justice for victims and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV’s network of ten 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. And for more information about the RICADV, call us at 401-467-9940 or visit us online at www.ricadv.org.

Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Murder of Linda Beckman

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

COVENTRY, R.I., April 17, 2023 – We are deeply saddened by the domestic violence homicide of Linda Beckman, a 60-year-old Coventry community member who was shot and killed by her husband, 61-year-old James Beckman. Linda was beloved by her family, friends, and neighbors. She had a full life, passions, and aspirations, all cut short by gun violence. Tragically, this is the third domestic violence homicide to occur in Rhode Island this year. All three of the deaths involved a victim over the age of 60.

The murder of Linda Beckman was a preventable gun death that impacts not only those who loved Linda, but her neighbors and community as well. Between 2016 and 2020, 42% of the domestic violence homicides that happened in Rhode Island involved a firearm. Having a gun in the house increases the likelihood that a domestic violence homicide will occur by five-fold. This is why limiting access to firearms, especially for abusers, saves lives. The RICADV is committed to advocating for commonsense gun safety laws that will reduce the plague of gun violence in our communities and across the nation, including domestic abuse gun violence.

The shock that community members often feel in response to lethal domestic violence reminds us that misconceptions about abuse are still prevalent. Domestic violence can be perpetrated by an abusive partner regardless of their profession, socioeconomic status, age, or whether there is a documented history of violence. Victims of abuse may be suffering in silence behind closed doors. We must continue to raise awareness about the dynamics of abuse, services available for victims, and steps each of us can take to respond to and prevent domestic violence in our communities.

Our communities in Rhode Island are not immune to violence. This speaks to the importance of developing stronger, better-connected communities, where we know and support each other. As individuals, as communities, and as a state, we all have a role and responsibility to play in building a society free from domestic violence, a society where our community members can thrive.

The RICADV network of member agencies includes court advocates that can assist victims in applying for restraining orders, which can help to disarm violent abusers who have access to guns. To find a listing of member agencies or to be put in contact with one in your area, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100 or visit us online at www.ricadv.org.

About the EBCC: The Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center provides wraparound services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including crisis hotline, safety planning, advocacy at the Kent County Courthouse, law enforcement advocacy, emergency safe shelter, transitional and permanent supportive housing opportunities, specialized counseling, support groups for victims as well as for family members, case management to connect clients to housing and other basic needs, and financial literacy classes.  All services, including counseling, are offered at no cost to clients.  EBCC’s focused service area is Central Rhode Island (Warwick, West Warwick, Coventry, West Greenwich, East Greenwich, Cranston, North Providence, Johnston, Scituate and Foster as well as all other towns whose cases are heard at Kent) but clients statewide can access services at EBCC if that is safer for them.  Please call 401-738-1700, email info@ebchouse.org or visit www.ebccenter.org for services and more information.

About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island and to provide statewide leadership on the issue. The organization strives to create justice for victims and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV’s network of ten 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. And for more information about the RICADV, call us at 401-467-9940 or visit us online at www.ricadv.org.

Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Murder of Joseph Corsi

By Toni Marie Gomes, Executive Director, Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, and Lucy Rios, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

PAWTUCKET, R.I., March 13, 2023 – We are deeply saddened by the domestic violence homicide of Joseph Corsi, an 84-year-old Pawtucket community member who was found dead in his home on Saturday after a neighbor called in a wellness check. His grandson, Matthew Dufresne, who resides at the same home, has been charged with the murder.

Joseph was living a full life well into his elder years and was a vibrant friend, neighbor, community member, parent, and grandparent. Joseph had dreams, passions, and aspirations, all cut short by domestic violence. The aftermath of this murder impacts not only those who loved Joseph, but the neighborhood and community at large.

According to the Rhode Island Coalition for Elder Justice, 1,462 cases of elder abuse were reported in 2021 in RI –however, many cases go unreported. The Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging reports that 10% of Americans over the age of 60 experience abuse each year, and they are twice as likely as their peers to be hospitalized because of abuse. Elder abuse can take many forms, including physical abuse, verbal abuse, and intentional neglect. As people age, if they experience domestic violence, it is more likely to occur from a family member. The National Council on Aging shares that in almost 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member.

Like all victims of domestic violence, our elder community members deserve health, dignity, empowerment, and justice. And as individuals, as communities, and as a state, we all have a role and responsibility to play in building a society free from domestic violence, a society where our community members can thrive.

If you suspect elder abuse: As relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, we can help keep victims safe and prevent another tragedy. Learn about the signs of elder abuse at: www.oha.ri.gov or call 401-462-0555 to anonymously report elder abuse with the RI Office of Healthy Aging.

If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who might be, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100 or use the online chat feature at www.ricadv.org or www.bvacri.org.

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

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

About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island and to provide statewide leadership on the issue. The organization strives to create justice for victims and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV’s network of ten 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. And for more information about the RICADV, call us at 401-467-9940 or visit us online at www.ricadv.org.

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

WOONSOCKET, R.I., Feb. 3, 2023 – This week, Joseph Pamula, a community member of Woonsocket, RI, was killed by his daughter in their home. This is a devastating reminder that domestic violence happens not only between intimate partners, but family members as well.

Sadly, Woonsocket has been disproportionately impacted by domestic homicides, with four of the twelve homicides that have occurred since 2020 happening there. Domestic violence is preventable when we address the factors that make abuse more likely to happen, such as poverty and a lack of community connectedness. We must also work to promote the conditions that safeguard against domestic violence, such as access to resources, including fair housing, employment, and mental health counseling. As a state, we must prioritize creating and investing in these kinds of community supports across Rhode Island.

It is critically important for all Rhode Islanders to know about the local resources available for victims of abuse and be able to access them. We want every survivor in our state to know that you are not alone. The RICADV’s network of member agencies provides compassionate, confidential services to help keep people safe who have been impacted by violence and support them on their healing journey.

Violence, including that which occurs behind closed doors within a home, impacts all of us, and there are steps each of us can take – as friends, relatives, parents, teachers, and policymakers – to end abuse. To learn about our efforts to end domestic violence in RI, find ways to get involved, and access resource information, visit our website at www.ricadv.org.

If you or someone you know needs assistance, please call the statewide confidential 24/7 RI Victims of Crime Helpline at 1-800-494-8100. The Helpline is also available via online chat at www.ricadv.org.

About BVAC: Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center has been providing services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in the Blackstone Valley area for over thirty five years. It is their voices, their struggles and their experiences which guide the Center’s work. Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to provide education and awareness on the issue of domestic violence. BVAC Serves Providence County and the northern R.I. community. The BVAC hotline and business line is: 401-723-3057.

About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island and to provide statewide leadership on the issue. The organization has ten member agencies, strives to create justice for victims and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV’s network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including emergency shelter, support groups, counseling services and assistance with the legal system. For more information about these organizations and services, call the statewide Helpline at 1-800-494-8100.

Releases

R.I. Coalition Against Domestic Violence Holds Event with Community Partners to Mark Release of New Publication, Preventing Intimate Partner Violence in Rhode Island

“With the release of this publication, it is our hope that all Rhode Islanders will feel inspired about the possibility of preventing intimate partner violence before it starts as we envision a future free from abuse,” says RICADV Director of Prevention Krista D’Amico.

WARWICK, R.I., March 7, 2023 – Community leaders and partners of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) joined together at the RICADV’s office in Warwick to celebrate their collective prevention work and the official release of the new publication: Preventing Intimate Partner Violence in Rhode Island.

Attendees were invited to add vibrant messages of hope written on colorful flowers to an interactive mural as they gathered in the event space decorated with green plants. The decorations matched the theme of the publication, meant to highlight the seeds being planted for prevention across RI communities and the need to focus on the root causes of intimate partner violence (IPV) to prevent abuse from happening in the first place.

The publication outlines three priorities to prevent IPV before it starts. It offers a vision of a thriving, equitable Rhode Island where everyone is safe, and invites Rhode Islanders to bring this vision into the places where they live, learn, work, play, and pray.

Lucy Rios, Executive Director of the RICADV, who led the RICADV’s prevention work for 16 years, shared remarks that affirmed the commitment of those in attendance and the RI community to end domestic violence and acknowledged the organizations that have been leading prevention efforts in local communities. She thanked past and current grant recipients of the RI Deborah DeBare Domestic Violence Prevention Fund (DVPF), which is the state’s first and only funding source dedicated to domestic violence primary prevention.

The RICADV administers the DVPF to support community-based prevention projects.  Current recipients of the DVPF include Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE), Conexión Latina Newport, East Bay Community Action Program, Progreso Latino, Refugee Dream Center, Sojourner House, The Step Up Center, and Young Voices.

The event brought together the RICADV’s network of member agencies, the survivor task force SOAR (Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships), the RICADV’s Board of Directors, the RI State Leadership Team for Intimate Partner Violence Prevention, Ten Men, and other close partners in prevention.

Speakers included: Lucy Rios, RICADV Executive Director; Krista D’Amico, RICADV Director of Prevention; Patricia Rivera, a member of SOAR; Jessica Walsh, Women’s Resource Center Executive Director; Mario Bueno, Progreso Latino Executive Director; Olubunmi Olatunji, Youth In Action Program Director; Maximo Rodriguez, Youth In Action alum; and Jolayemi Ahamiojie, Rhode Island Department of Health Injury Prevention Project Coordinator.

To view or download Preventing Intimate Partner Violence in Rhode Island, and to learn more about the work of the DVPF grant recipients, please visit our website at www.ricadv.org/prevention. For more information, call the RICADV at 401-467-9940.

Together, we can create safe, connected communities. Together, we can end 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 and to provide statewide leadership on the issue. The organization strives to create justice for victims and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV’s network of ten 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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*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.

2022 Releases and Statements

Releases

The RICADV names Lucy Rios as new executive director

By Jim Berson, interim chairman, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence Board of Directors

WARWICK R.I., Aug. 10, 2022 – We are overjoyed to announce that the RICADV Board of Directors has officially named Lucy Rios as the RICADV’s executive director. Lucy has been a leader in the movement to end domestic violence in Rhode Island for nearly two decades, and her wealth of knowledge will continue moving the mission forward to end abuse and prevent violence before it starts in our state.

Lucy has dedicated 19 years to supporting survivors of domestic violence and their families in Rhode Island through several capacities at the RICADV, including as interim executive director, deputy director and leading the prevention and communications teams. Her commitment to catalyzing change and building a world without violence through community building and prevention work has been instrumental. The creation of the RICADV’s Ten Men program, now entering its 9th year gathering and supporting men as aspiring allies in violence prevention, is just a glimpse of the innovative and meaningful work Lucy has led.

Reflecting on her many years serving directly in the movement to end domestic abuse, Lucy shared, “Working with survivors and the entire R.I. community has been an honor. Every day, I’m re-energized by the community and members of the RICADV’s task force SOAR (Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships), and the opportunity to make the world a better place alongside them. It is a privilege to do this work.”

The RICADV and entire state of Rhode Island are in caring hands with Lucy at the helm of the statewide coalition dedicated to ending domestic violence, cultivating a world where all people can live without violence or fear and thrive. We look forward to this next chapter in the RICADV’s history, and the future we will create – together.

About the RICADV:  The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island and to provide statewide leadership on the issue. The organization has ten member agencies, strives to create justice for victims and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV’s network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including emergency shelter, support groups, counseling services and assistance with the legal system. For more information about these organizations and services, call the statewide Helpline at 800-494-8100. 

Statements

Statement regarding the domestic violence murder of Grya Pihlkrantz

By Lori Ann Hiener, interim executive director, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, and Lucy Rios, executive director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

CHARLESTOWN, R.I., Sept. 21, 2022 – We are heartbroken by the domestic violence homicide of 45-year-old Grya Pihlkrantz, a loving friend, sister and granddaughter, whose life was stolen from her. She should be here today.

Grya was stabbed and killed by Alex Rolin, 25, at the Charlestown home both Grya and Rolin lived at. This is a devastating reminder that domestic abuse can happen between roommates. Rolin has a violent history, including weapons charges. While Rolin does not have a recorded domestic abuse history, a history of violence – particularly with access to guns – is a risk factor for more severe violence and homicide. 

We are concerned for the third roommate who was home at the time of this homicide and witnessed the aftermath of this violence. In the wake of this homicide, it is not only Grya’s loved ones who are feeling the impacts of losing her to this senseless violence and the roommate who witnessed this – the entire community is left reeling from this murder, which will affect generations of Rhode Islanders. Domestic violence happens in every neighborhood, town and city in our state. As community members, it is so important we learn about – and can identify – lethality risk factors including history of violence and the presence of weapons. 

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

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 DVRC: The Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County (DVRC) 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 DVRC is dedicated to both preventing and responding to domestic violence by working to change the social conditions, beliefs and social actions that perpetuate abuse. For more information visit www.dvrcsc.org.

About the RICADV:  The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island and to provide statewide leadership on the issue. The organization has ten member agencies, strives to create justice for victims and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV’s network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including emergency shelter, support groups, counseling services and assistance with the legal system. For more information about these organizations and services, call the statewide Helpline at 800-494-8100. 

Statement regarding the domestic violence murder of Courtney Huard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helpline Available 24/7

The confidential statewide Helpline can be reached by calling 1-800-494-8100 or using the online chat here. The Helpline is for all victims of violent crime, including domestic and dating abuse, and those looking for more information to help a victim of violence.

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