Advocating for public policy and systems change in Rhode Island

Our Work

Advocating for public policy and systems change in Rhode Island to:

Our Partners

To help shape the public policy and systems that govern our state, the RICADV engages:

Our Goals

To create a society that is safe for all and intolerant of abuse and violence, the RICADV’s Policy Team works to impact these Rhode Island sectors:

Domestic Violence Homicides in Rhode Island: 2016 - 2020

The report includes homicide case information and statewide incident data, information about lethality risk factors and homicide prevention recommendations, and notes the many ways we can support the people in our state currently experiencing violence.

Learn More About our 2023 Abusive Litigation Bill

Our 2023 Priority Abusive Litigation bill passed this year! This new law prevents abusers from weaponizing our justice system to harass, impoverish, and harm victims of domestic violence. Click below to download our FACT SHEET and learn more about how this bill will help put an end to Abusive Litgation in Rhode Island.

Take Action

In order to be effective, we must make our voices heard, which means we need our supporters to speak up and stand with us.


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Learn more about policy

Each year, we work with the Rhode Island General Assembly, strongly advocating to pass and improve legislation in order to protect victims of domestic violence and hold offenders accountable.

To get involved please visit these websites:


More Information

Want more information on how you can support the RICADV’s legislative priorities? Call the RICADV at 401-467-9940, or email ricadv@ricadv.org.

Legislative Victory Timeline

RICADV’s 2023 legislative wins!

Our priority bill passed - unanimously - in its first year of introduction.

PASSED: Abusive Litigation bill protects survivors from post-separation abuse.

We also worked on a variety of other legislation with coalitions across the state. Read on to learn more about our other legislative work.

Bills that passed:

    We advocated alongside partner coalitions, including the RI Coalition for Reproductive Freedom and The Womxn Project, for the passage of the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act (EACA). This bill ensures that all Rhode Islanders - regardless of health insurance plan, whether they receive Medicaid, or whether they work for the state government - have equitable access to reproductive health care and the freedom to make their own family planning choices.
  • PASSED: Much-needed housing legislation!
    We advocated along with our Homes RI partners to pass much-needed affordable and fair housing legislation, including prohibiting fees for tenant rental applications, extending foreclosure protections for homeowners, and providing a process for the sealing of public court records in eviction proceedings to protect against discrimination when tenants had previously stood up for their legal rights to safe and healthy housing in court. 

Bills with more work to do:

  • Equity Impact Campaign
    We worked in partnership with RI’s Economic Progress Institute and other advocacy organizations as members of the RI Equity Impact Campaign to support the Equity Impact Statement Act. While it did not pass this session, we will continue to work with our partners toward a more equitable future for all Rhode Islanders by ensuring policies, programs, and the state budget correct historic disparities and design new policies centered in equity.
  • Gun Safety Legislation
    The gun safety bills that we supported with our partners at RICAGV and Moms Demand Action did not pass and need to pass next session. This legislation includes the Assault Weapons Ban and the Safe Firearm Storage bill.
  • Bail Reform
    We worked with our community partners at D.A.R.E. (Direct Action for Rights and Equality) on an agreement that would add a DV survivor-safety amendment to their important probation violation bail reform bill that is needed to ensure that release and bail considerations are based on violence and dangerousness risk assessments and not one’s ability to pay cash bail. The bill did not pass, so we will continue this dialogue and advocacy with our partners on social justice and critical criminal legal system reforms.
RICADV’s 2022 legislative victories for survivors and their families

In addition to including $250 million in the budget for new affordable housing, the R.I. state budget includes $10.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to support services for domestic violence victims and their families as well as housing opportunities for survivors and their children

PASSED: Life-saving address confidentiality bill protects survivors and their children

Celebrating the RICADV’s 2021 legislative victories

PASSED: Fight for $15 and Fair Pay

PASSED: Safety & Health Care Confidentiality for Survivors

PASSED: Raising RI Social Safety Net Benefits

PASSED: Increasing Access to Safe, Healthy, Affordable Homes

PASSED: Safe Staffing for Equity and Elder Justice

Rhode Island makes history with legislation that removes barriers for survivors and children

PASSED: A bill that protects children through restraining orders, regardless of their relationship to abusers

PASSED: Continued funding for domestic violence prevention work

PASSED: Legislation securing reproductive rights for Rhode Islanders

PASSED: A resolution keeping confidential healthcare information safe from abusers

PASSED: A bill protecting household pets in domestic abuse situations

Our legislative session included significant victories for domestic violence survivors

PASSED: A bill to criminally prohibit nonconsensual pornography, also known as "revenge porn"

PASSED: A gun safety law to provide another option for firearm surrender for individuals who present an imminent risk of harm to themselves or others

PASSED: A bill to rename the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund after Deborah DeBare in honor of our long-serving former executive director

Celebrated several substantial legislative victories that will enhance safety and security for survivors and our communities

PASSED: Disarming Dangerous Abusers

PASSED: Guaranteeing Earned Sick and Safe Days

PASSED: Expanding Crime Victim Compensation for Children who Witness

PASSED: Justice Reinvestment and Dangerousness Risk Assessments

Domestic Violence Prevention Fund Created

In 2016, the RI General Assembly passed legislation to establish a Domestic Violence Prevention Fund—Rhode Island's first dedicated state funding that will support strategies for stopping the cycle of domestic violence before it starts.

The Prevention Fund was created through an additional $200,000 in the state budget, rather than the proposed increase to the state's marriage license fee.

To learn more about how the fund is being implemented, click here. Domestic Violence Prevention Fund

Report: Domestic Violence Homicides in Rhode Island

In February 2016, 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 RICADV plans to release a similar report for every five-year period going forward. Reports will highlight key findings and provide recommendations for preventing future domestic violence homicides in RI.

Court Advocacy Funding Restored

After years of budget cuts to state services, the program, which serves over 8,000 victims annually, had endured a 70% decrease in funding by 2013 and was forced to close its offices on Mondays. This closure was the first time in the program's 25-year history that advocates were not available when court was in session.

The RICADV led our member agencies, SOAR, allied organizations and community supporters in the effort to convince our legislators to restore funding.

It was an amazing victory when the Rhode Island legislature agreed to restore $100,000 to the program, a much-needed lifeline for domestic violence victims. Special thanks are due to Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, Senator Maryellen Goodwin, and former Representative Elaine A. Coderre for their support.

The Anti-Strangulation Bill

The Anti-Strangulation Bill was one of the RICADV's main legislative priorities in 2012 after the large number of homicides that occurred in Rhode Island in 2010.

When an abuser strangles their victim, they are showing that they have the victim's life in their hands and that they have the power to end it.

Injuries caused by strangulation assaults are themselves very dangerous, such as neurological damage sustained from lack of oxygen to the brain. Furthermore, a victim who is strangled by their abuser is 9.9 times more likely to be killed than one who is not.

Strangulation assaults are one of the top five lethality indicators for domestic violence homicides. Yet despite their lethal nature, strangulation assaults are generally charged as misdemeanor simple assaults (§11-5-3) under current Rhode Island law.

By elevating these dangerous, damaging crimes to a felony level, police officers, prosecutors and advocates will be able to better protect the lives of domestic violence victims and children and help stop domestic violence homicides. This important bill provides police officers and prosecutors with a much-needed tool to hold the most dangerous batterers accountable and protect the lives of Rhode Islanders.

Domestic Violence and Firearms

In the summer of 2005, the Homicide Prevention Act became law (R.I.G.L. §8-8.1-3 and §15-15-3), and Rhode Island became the 41st state to restrict the possession of firearms when a restraining order has been issued.

In September 2006, the RICADV had the opportunity to bring together representatives from the criminal justice field and domestic violence advocates to attend a national summit addressing the issue of firearms and domestic violence.

The group returned from the conference and established the Firearms and Domestic Violence Taskforce (FADVTF). Their goal was to develop and recommend policies, protocols and procedures that would strengthen the judicial, law enforcement and advocate response for cases of domestic abuse involving firearms.

Their first project was to create a uniform model protocol for law enforcement agencies to use when responding to domestic violence calls involving firearms, which resulted in the report Domestic Violence and Firearms: A Model Protocol.

The information presented in this report explains the research process and findings and provides recommendations to ensure that the protections provided by R.I.G.L. §8-8.1-3 and §15-15-3 will help save the lives of those victims whose abusers own firearms.

For more information about domestic violence and firearms, view our fact sheet here.

Report: Safety for Children

SOAR and the Child Custody and Visitation Advisory Committee (CCVAC) examined the strengths and gaps of the child custody and visitation process in cases involving domestic violence.

In addition to meeting with attorneys and judges, SOAR held numerous focus groups and collected 101 surveys from domestic violence survivors who had gone through, or were currently going through, the Rhode Island child custody and visitation process.

From the information gathered, the committee identified some of the key problems of the Rhode Island family court system’s child custody and visitation process:

  • Children continue to suffer violence and abuse during the child custody and visitation process.
  • Services to protect children are insufficient.
  • Child custody and visitation cases drive victims of domestic violence into debt and poverty.
  • Victims of domestic violence continue to suffer abuse and violence.
  • Domestic violence is minimized.

This work resulted in the Safety for Children report, which was published in 2010 and can be read in full here.

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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