If you are or think you might be a victim of domestic violence...
The most important step you can take for yourself, if you are a victim of domestic violence, is to build a safety plan to protect yourself from the abuser. When physical, emotional, or sexual violence has occurred once in a relationship, it is likely to happen again. So you need to plan ahead to protect yourself and your children. Since you know the abuser's actions and behaviors, you should use this knowledge and plan ahead.
Here are some things to consider in your personal safety plan:
- Teach your children how to call 9-1-1.
- Tell trusted friends, family members, and neighbors what is going on.
- Arrange to have a safe place to go to. A domestic violence shelter is one option. Ideally a safe place is one that your abusive partner doesn't know about.
- Prepare a bag of clothing, medications, and other essentials for yourself and your children to use if you have to leave quickly. Hide the bag where you can get to it in a hurry.
- Make several copies of your important papers and keep one set in the bag (other copies could go to trusted friends or family). You may need things such as your identification, birth certificates, financial and insurance information, social security cards, any court Order for Protection. Keep your address and appointment books with you.
- If you have a car, make an extra set of keys and hide them where you can get to them if you need to. You could hide them on the car; a magnetic key holder is one way to do that.
- During an incident of abuse or violence, get out if you can. Call 9-1-1 for the police, if you feel it is safe.
- If you cannot get out, stay away from the kitchen, bathroom, garage, or other potentially dangerous rooms. Call for help; if neighbors hear, they may call 9-1-1.
- If your abusive partner has left the home, you might change the locks and the phone number and you might need to reinforce doors and windows. Have a plan in case you encounter your abuser.
- Remember, the more precautions you take, the safer you will be.
- If you need other ideas on how to plan for your safety, call a domestic violence hotline or agency for help.
The following are warning signs that could indicate that you are a victim or are becoming a victim of domestic violence. Where we use the word "partner" we mean husband, wife, spouse, lover, or whoever applies in your situation.
You may be at risk for domestic violence if your partner is doing any of the following things:
- Checking up on you too much: for example, your partner may be listening to your phone calls, asking you where you were, calling you at work throughout the day, or checking the mileage on your car.
- Putting you down: for example, your partner may call you names, criticize you frequently, humiliate you in public or private, or make you feel crazy.
- Trying to control what you do: for example, your partner may be telling you not to see certain friends or family members, keeping you from going to school or work, making you stay at home when you want to go out.
- Acting jealous or possessive and saying that is a sign of love.
- Destroying or threatening to destroy your belongings.
- Threatening to hurt you, your friends, other family members, or pets.
- Touching you in a way that hurts or scares you.
- Making you have sex in ways or at times that are not comfortable for you.
- Blaming you or others for everything; getting angry in a way that scares you.
- Saying that your concerns and fears about your relationship are not real or not important.
Please look at other information about actions domestic violence victims can take and to get information on agencies that can help you.
Please remember that no one has a right to hurt you, whether you drink alcohol, use other drugs, or are clean and sober. Domestic violence is a crime. Addiction is an illness. Unfortunately, both of these problems are difficult to talk about. Drinking and drug use, your own or another's, can make it hard for you to stay safe. It is important to realize violence is not caused by drinking and drugging, although that can lead to increased vulnerability. If you are in an abusive relationship and concerned about your own or another's alcohol or other drug use, you can receive information and reerrals 24 hours a day by calling Alcohol Drug Help Line. The number in the Seattle area is(206) 722-3700 or Statewide at 1-800-562-1240.
In King County, there are four shelters in confidential locations to serve battered women. There is also one shelter that primarily serves battered women and their children in a non-confidential but secure location. Victims of domestic violence should call individual shelters, since services and intake procedures are different for each shelter.
In general, shelters offer:
- emergency housing for up to 2 weeks (longer under some circumstances)
- individual and group counseling
- therapeutic child care for children of residents
- parenting support
- food, clothing, and personal care items for residents
- advocacy and referral to other resources
- education on domestic violence and related matters
- referral to transitional housing
Names and phone numbers of confidential shelters for battered women in King County are:
- In Seattle, New Beginnings at (206)522-9472
- Also in Seattle, Catherine Booth House at (206)324-4943
- In East King County, Eastside Domestic Violence Program at (425)746-1940
- In South King County, Domestic Abuse Women's Network (DAWN) at (425)622-1881; DAWN's emergency number is (425)656-7867
There are a number of organizations that provide a variety of community-based services and advocacy for victims of domestic violence and their children not living in shelters. Some agencies serve specific geographic areas, while others specialize in meeting individual needs of refugee women, gays and lesbians, deaf or hearing impaired women, Native American women, African American or Spanish-speaking women.
The services of community advocacy programs vary, but generally they include the following:
- safety planning
- individual advocacy and referral
- support groups with child care
- parenting support
- legal information
- community education on domestic violence
The following agencies serve specific geographic areas in King County:
- In Seattle, New Beginnings at (206)522-9472
- In South King County, DAWN Community Advocacy Program at (425)656-8423
- In East King County, Eastside Domestic Violence Program at (425)562-8840
The following agencies serve all of King County, providing services for survivors of domestic violence:
- Refugee Women's Alliance at (206) 721-0243 serves refugee women and offers advocacy in many languages.
- Consejo Counseling and Referral Services at (206) 461-4880 offers advocacy and counseling for Spanish-speaking persons.
- Alcohol/Drug Helpline Domestic Violence/Chemical Dependency Prevention Program at (206) 722-3700 or 1-800-562-1240 for callers impacted by both domestic violence and their own or another's substance abuse.
- Chaya at (425) 227-0088 serves South Asian domestic violence victims and their children.
- Jewish Family Service at (206) 461-3240 serves Jewish domestic violence victims and their children.
- Seattle Counseling Service for Sexual Minorities at (206) 323-1768 serves gay men who are victims of domestic violence.
- The Northwest Network for Bisexual, Trans, and Lesbian Survivors of Abuse at (206) 568-7777 serves domestic violence survivors.
- Seattle Indian Health Board at (206) 324-9360, extension 2806 or 2807, serves Native American domestic violence victims.
- Abused Deaf Women's Advocacy Services (ADWAS) helps victims who are deaf or hearing impaired. The TDD number is (206) 726-0093.
- East Cherry YWCA African American Family Network at (206) 461-8480 serves Black/ African-American domestic violence victims. Press 3 when you get through to this number.
- Northwest Family Life Learning and Counseling Center provides victim support and advocacy programs, children's therapeutic play-groups, and a state-certified chemical dependency outpatient treatment program. Call (206) 363-9601 for an appointment.
- The Asian Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center works to prevent violence against women through community organizing and education on domestic violence and sexual assault. The agency also provides some crisis services. (206) 467-9976
King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence at (206) 568-5454 provides general information about domestic violence programs and advocacy services available in King County. The Coalition does not provide direct advocacy services to domestic violence survivors.
The following agencies provide services to sexual assault victims:
- King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, whose 24-hour crisis line number is (206)226-7273, or 1-800-825-7273, provides legal advocacy, counseling, and medical and legal referrals to sexual assault victims living in King County outside of Seattle. Community education and training are also available.
- Harborview Sexual Assault Center, whose 24-hour number is (206)521-1800, provides counseling and referral services to victims of sexual assault.
- Abused Deaf Women's Advocacy Services, whose 24-hour crisis line is (206)236-3134 (TDD) or WA Relay Service: 1-800-833-6384, provides culturally appropriate sexual assault services for deaf and hearing impaired persons, including legal advocacy, counseling, medical and legal referrals, support groups, case management, and community education and training for King County residents.
- Eastside Sexual Assault Center for Children, whose (425)688-5130 phone provides a referral number after hours, provides assessments, evaluations, counseling and legal advocacy for children up to age 18. This agency also provides medical clinics for children twice a month, by appointment only.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, there are legal remedies designed to protect and help you. If you are in immediate danger, please hang up and call 9-1-1.
Domestic violence is a serious crime. It is against the law in the State of Washington to commit acts of domestic violence. If one family or household member hits, hurts, or seriously threatens harm against another family or household member, a crime has been committed. Domestic violence assaults can include such things as slapping, pushing, shoving, pinching, throwing a person down, pulling hair, and other unwanted violent actions. You are also a domestic violence victim if you have been verbally or physically threatened and are fearful of being hurt. It is a crime for someone to violate a valid Order for Protection which a Court has issued to help protect you.
The term "family or household member" under the domestic violence law includes "spouses, former spouses, persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time, adult persons related by blood or marriage, adult persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, persons sixteen years of age or older with whom a respondent sixteen years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship, and persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren."
There are legal options for you as a victim of domestic violence. You have the right to expect help and protection. Here are some things you can do:
You can call the police and report what the abuser has done. Be sure to give them your name and your location. Give them as much information as you can. Officers will be sent to your location as soon as possible.
A written report should be filled out by the police if they come to your house in response to your call for help. A written report is required by law; be sure to insist that a report is completed.
If the police believe they have probable cause to suspect that a person assaulted you within the previous four-hour period, they are required to arrest the person who committed the assault. This is the law.
If your abuser is arrested for or charged with a crime, you have the right to ask the police or the prosecutor to obtain for you a criminal "No-Contact Order" which requires that the abuser have no contact with you. This is provided by law.
The police are required by law to advise you about shelters and other services in your community. They are supposed to tell you about your right to file for a civil court order for your protection. Often they have a written notice about your legal rights to give you. You can also ask for this information.
- You can go to court and file for a civil Order for Protection. This is an enforceable court order that will direct the abuser to stay away from you. This is different from a criminal "No-Contact Order." You may want to have both kinds of orders issued.
If you or your children are victims of domestic violence, that is, acts of violence, stalking, or threats against you by a family or household member, you are likely to be eligible to apply for an Order for Protection. This is a civil court order that restrains the person who has abused you from further acts of violence or threats, by setting limits on that person's behavior.
You are eligible for an Order for Protection if you have experienced physical harm, bodily injury or assault, or sexual assault. This is domestic violence if the person who harmed you is a family or household member, defined by the law as "spouses, former spouses, persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time, adult persons related by blood or marriage, adult persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, persons sixteen years of age or older with whom a respondent sixteen years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship, and persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren."
Crisis Line Phone Number: (206) 461-3222