NORTH SMITHFIELD – During her junior year of high school, North Smithfield resident Madison Archambault said she was a victim of domestic violence.
“The person tried to strangle me and sat outside my bedroom and watched me sleep,” she told The Breeze.
According to Archambault, a restraining order was given to the abuser, which was violated twice, the first in Sixth District Court, and the second in Third District Court. She said the case was settled in less than 24 hours and there was no victim impact statement, which is statutorily required.
“The defendant only got a slap on the wrist,” she said.
Archambault said that experience is what inspired her to draft a bill as part of her senior project to require the attorney general, instead of local law enforcement, to prosecute violations of restraining orders and no-contact orders, as they have a more “consistent and just court system.”
State Rep. Jacquelyn Baginski, of House District 17, said that when she heard about Archambault’s story in the halls of the Statehouse, she knew she wanted to help be a part of this project so she could bring issue to light with a bill. Along with Sen. Hanna Gallo, of District 27, they sat down with Archambault to frame it and be heard in front of the House Judiciary Committee which took place last Thursday, March 10.
“Madison and I, and Sen. Gallo, we’re all going to sit down in the coming weeks to determine if something will provide for better enforcement of a no-contact order,” said Baginski, saying their goal is to make the bill less burdensome for the AG’s office.
Archambault told The Breeze that speaking about this issue has been an eye-opening experience, saying the bill aims to protect victims from violations of restraining orders and no-contact orders. She said the most difficult thing she has come across in this experience is getting support when it comes to funding and resourcing.
“There are 26 Rhode Islanders killed by domestic violence in four years but finances seem to be more important,” she said.
During her senior year, Archambault joined the Running Start Program, which allows her to complete college level classes at the Community College of Rhode Island. She said she plans to go on to the University of Rhode Island for business.
Baginski said there are so many young men and women out there who have a story to tell just like Madison’s, and she and others are partnering with her for all of them. Archambault said that it has been empowering to have a voice and help people.
“Even if the bill doesn’t pass, I know I’ve still helped many people,” she said.
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