Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Resources
National Sexual Assault Hotline
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Services Available to Victims of Domestic Violence / Sexual Assault
- For victims/survivors, their non-offending family, friends and others affected by domestic and sexual violence
In-person Accompaniment & Support
- For victims/survivors of domestic and sexual violence at the hospital emergency room, police station and throughout court proceedings
Information & Referral Network
- Listing of community services and local Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis centers specializing in trauma issues
- For teachers/students, police, court personnel, medical staff, social services personnel and others involved in dealing with the issue of domestic and sexual violence.
The following information is a brief overview about Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. For additional information, refer to the resources available at the top of this page.
Domestic Violence is a pattern of violent or dominant behaviors used by a partner to gain control of a relationship, and it goes far beyond physical injury. It is against the law for your spouse, intimate partner, ex-partner, or a family member to:
- Injure you
- Threaten you so that you fear for your physical safety
- Force or pressure you into sexual acts.
- Destroy or threaten to destroy your physical property.
- Enter your home against your will if you are living separately.
Domestic violence is something uncomfortable to talk about, and it is a hard pattern to escape, but it also something that can be stopped. Domestic Violence is in our neighborhood. It is in our community. It can happen to anyone, but it does not have to happen to you.
When a law enforcement officer responds to a domestic violence situation and has probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, the officer shall arrest and take into custody the alleged perpetrator of the crime.
The alleged perpetrator will be brought before a bail commissioner or another officer of the court. A No-Contact Order (NCO) will be issued. The NCO means that the defendant may not contact you in person, by telephone, or by mail.
On the next business day, the defendant will be arraigned before a judge. The judge will schedule a second hearing (pretrial conference), usually within a few weeks, at which the defendant may change his/her plea to guilty, not guilty, or no contest (nolo contendre).
A temporary restraining order (TRO) is also available to victims of domestic violence at the Family or District Court (located at the Garrahy Complex in Providence) whether or not there has been an arrest. A person may apply for a TRO if he/she has been a victim of physical violence or is in fear for their physical safety. If a TRO is approved, the perpetrator is served with the TRO and is not allowed to have any contact with the victim. A violation is an arrestable offence. Some people choose to have both a NCO and a TRO because a TRO can offer added protection by giving temporary custody of children to the victim; by ordering the perpetrator to pay temporary child support; and/or by ordering the perpetrator to vacate the home, if shared with the victim.
Sexual assault is any kind of sexual contact without consent. (This includes forcing someone to watch pornography or sexual acts.) Consent is “yes” without force or power. Force or power includes emotional coercion, (bribes, pressuring, lying, tricks) implicit coercion, (social position, size/strength, age) verbal threats, physical force without a weapon or physical force with a weapon. Exceptions to consent include age (the age of consent in Rhode Island is 16.) and being mentally incapacitated due to drugs or alcohol. In addition, a person who is incapable of understanding the nature of a sexual act due to a mental impairment cannot give consent.
Sexual violence happens to all people. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Most perpetrators are known and trusted. 85% of perpetrators are acquaintances such as a parent, relative or friend and that can make the sexual abuse even more confusing. There is no “right” response to sexual violence. Sexual assault is a life-threatening situation and whatever you did to survive was the right thing to do. Remember, submitting to sexual violence is not the same thing as “consenting.” Sexual violence is never the victim’s fault and no one deserves to be sexually assaulted.
If you have been sexually assaulted, consider the following:
- Every victim of sexual assault should receive immediate medical attention. Being seen by medical personnel does not mean you have to report the crime. There is a specific sexual assault examination that addresses your medical needs, as well as the collection of evidence that may be useful should you decide to report the crime and press charges. Also, you should consider being tested for pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS. Medical evidence can be collected up to 72 hours after an assault. There is no cost to the victim who has no insurance for the exam. The exam can be done at any hospital emergency room.
- Sexual assault is a crime. It is your decision whether or not to file a police report. If you decide to report the assault, the report should be filed with the police department in the city/town where the assault occurred, or with the State Police.
A trained sexual assault crisis advocate can accompany you to the hospital and/or police station if you wish. The advocate is there to offer you support and answer your questions. Services are available regardless of whether or not you decide to report the assault to the police. An advocate is available through the 24-hour Victims of Crime Helpline at 1.800.494.8100.