Domestic Violence & Assault


Domestic Violence is defined by a pattern of abusive behaviors used to establish and maintain power and control over another person. This abuse can affect intimate partners in a current or past relationship, as well as family members from different households, or those living in the same household.

The violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, financial, or psychological.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, place of residence or socioeconomic status. It occurs in all communities.

To support those victimized by domestic violence and/or sexual assault, the Bristol Police Department has partnered with the Women’s Resource Center of Newport and Bristol County (WRCNBC) to provide free and confidential advocacy. The Law Enforcement Advocate (LEA), who is employed by the WRCNBC through grant funding, offers crisis intervention, support information and resources according to each person’s individual needs.

The LEA is also available  to accompany victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to report crimes at police departments, or accompany the victim to the hospital for medical treatment related to crime.

Contact Information

If you would like to confidentially speak with the Law Enforcement Advocate, please contact:

Laurie W.
Women’s Resource Center
624 Main Street
Warren, RI 02885
Direct: (401) 236-8358
WRCNBC Office: (401) 846-5263
24 Hour Hotline: (800) 494-8100

For additional information , programs and resources, including safety planning, you may also visit then Women’s Resource Center of Newport and Bristol County’s website at

Response Procedure

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, by mail or other forms of communication such as electronically such as text or e-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 contendere).

Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)

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.

Helpful Numbers

  • 24-Hour Victims of Crime Helpline: 800-484-8100
  • Day One (Sexual Assault): 401-421-4100
  • Garrahy Courthouse Restraining Order Office: 401-458-3372
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE
  • Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence: 401-467-9940
  • Rhode Island Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE): 877-RI4-VINE (877-744-8462)
  • Sojourner House: 401-658-4334

Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault Crisis Advocate

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 800-494-8100.


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, and tricks)
  • Implicit coercion (social position, size/strength, and 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.

What To Do

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:

  • Medical Help: 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.
  • The Police: 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.