EDITORIAL

Putting a spotlight on domestic violence

Posted

Saturday’s heat across the state was blistering, even record setting, but it didn’t prevent the Cranston community from coming out to remember one of its own.

“A Walk in Memory of Lauren Ise” was held at Hugh B. Bain Middle School near the peak of this weekend’s heat wave, even forcing the walking portion of the event to be cancelled. The soaring temperatures didn’t dampen the spirit of attendees, however – nor did it slow the day’s mission.

Lauren, 29, was killed in March of this year at her Edgewood apartment. Her estranged boyfriend has been charged with murder.

A strong crowd came out to remember Lauren, including friends, family and domestic violence advocates. Children enjoyed art activities, while adults visited the various informational booths staffed by representatives of groups like the Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center and Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships.

Everyone joined together when EBCC counselor Deb Ferrante and director of community services Gina Scordino took the microphone to speak about the domestic violence services their organization offers. EBCC covers Cranston, Johnston, North Providence and all of Kent County.

Ferrante and Scardino called for more community engagement, with Ferrante even saying at one point that the hope is for the EBCC and its sister agencies to become obsolete.

It’s going to take a Herculean effort from all parties to get it done.

Domestic violence is pervasive across the country, and Rhode Island is no exception. According to statistics from the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 54 people were killed in domestic violence homicides between 2006 and 2015. An overwhelming majority – 90 percent – of the perpetrators were men, while 76 percent of the victims were female intimate partners.

Furthermore, about half of the offenders had a previous history of domestic violence. The coalition suggests one possible solution, which would allow for the screening of domestic violence cases for “homicide risk factors with validated assessment tools.”

The coalition points out how that method has produced positive results. Maryland reduced its domestic violence homicide rate by 34 percent over five years. Massachusetts instituted a similar program between 2005 and 2013, examining 106 high-risk cases and seeing zero homicides involving those during that span.

Implementing that structure would be a start, but preventing the spread of misinformation is another critical step. Ferrante said that she was told Lauren was informed she would have to pay $250 for a restraining order, a service that the EBCC performs for free.

In an emotional aside, Ise’s mother, Cheryl Palazzo, took the microphone to say that Lauren’s estranged boyfriend had been able to obtain a restraining order before her daughter could.

“The other problem was that he got a restraining order first, which meant she couldn't get one,” Palazzo said. “But he was street smart enough where he knew if he got one, she couldn’t get one.”

The coalition is actively making a difference across the state, with 8,758 victims receiving services since 2017 and 2,833 victims obtaining restraining orders with the help of advocates.

The ability to help goes well beyond the coalition, though. The community must become more involved, which is why Ferrante said EBCC always leaps at chances to talk to any group possible, from Girl Scout troops to church organizations.

Ferrante even remarked how happy she was to see the amount of men in the audience listening to the presentation, as their engagement and support of the movement is vital as well.

We share the ambitious goal of making domestic violence a thing of the past. We urge all members of our communities to share available resources and look out for those who are experiencing violence or abuse at the hands of a partner or loved one. It might mean the difference in a victim deciding to step through the doors of the EBCC or call their local advocate at a police department.

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