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Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence: Statement Regarding the Domestic Violence Murder of Berta Hudson

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We write this statement with heavy hearts and devastation as we mourn the death of Berta Hudson, a 48-year-old woman of Providence, Rhode Island, who was killed by her estranged husband in broad daylight on the streets of Providence.

Berta had been visiting a relative’s home on Saturday, August 24, before she was fatally shot on the street by Oscar Hudson, who later shot and killed himself, police said. The community has lost a woman whose life was stolen from her – as she visited loved ones. We are saddened and shocked by the manner Berta was murdered, showing the abuser’s complete disregard for anyone else’s safety.

We send our deepest condolences to Berta’s family members and friends, as well as the Providence community, now facing heartache and this tragic loss of life. Berta’s loved ones will forever be affected by this tragedy involving gun violence.

There are several laws in place in Rhode Island that require criminal background checks before the purchase of a gun, and the surrendering of firearms when a person is convicted of a domestic violence crime. The presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation makes a homicide five times more likely. We must do all we can to ensure guns do not reach the hands of abusers in the first place, and stay out of their possession.

Berta’s family, friends, and the community deserve to know: How did Oscar have access to a firearm, despite having a domestic violence history? This murder is the fourth domestic violence homicide in Rhode Island this year.Domestic violence robs our fellow Rhode Islanders of their peace and safety, and we must reject this abuse as a community.

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As relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, we can help keep victims and their children safe and prevent another tragedy. If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone might be, or if you are looking for resources for a child who has witnessed domestic violence, call the Rhode Island statewide Helpline for 24-hour support and information at 800-494-8100.

Calling 911 if you suspect or witness abuse is an important step to take, but there are many other ways to help. If you know or suspect that someone in your life is a victim of domestic violence, you can help that person stay safe. Listen, and express your concerns without judgment. Ask the person what you can do for them, and check in consistently. Help the person create a plan that will keep them safe when abuse occurs, and connect them with local resources. Additional information can be found at ricadv.org.

Tonya Harris is the Executive Firector of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV), an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island. The organization provides leadership to its member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV's network of member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including emergency shelter, support groups, counseling services, and assistance with the legal system. For more information about these organizations and services, call the statewide Helpline at 800-494-8100.