General Information About Domestic Violence
Disagreements develop from time to time in relationships.
Domestic violence is not a disagreement. Domestic violence encompasses a wide range of acts committed by one partner against another in an intimate relationship. This may occur in a variety of relationships: married, separated, divorced, dating, heterosexual, gay or lesbian. Violence of a particularly injurious nature is primarily perpetrated by men against women.
Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors, some causing physical injury, others not, some criminal, others not, but all psychologically damaging. Frequently, domestic violence includes threats of violence, threats of suicide, or threats to take children from the abused person. It may also include breaking objects, hurting pets, yelling, driving recklessly to endanger or scare the abused person, isolating family members from others, and controlling resources like money, vehicles, credit, and time.
The goal of an abusive person is to establish and maintain control over his or her partner
Domestic violence is a learned pattern of behavior whose effects, without intervention, become more destructive and sometimes lethal over time.
There's no excuse for domestic violence.
There are frequently warning signs that domestic violence is happening in a relationship. If you have observed any of the following things in a relationship, domestic violence could be happening and you might be able to take action to help. (We use the word "partner" generally; it could mean husband-and-wife, people who are dating, family members, people who live together, same-sex relationships, or others.)
Warning signs of domestic violence include:
- One partner checks up on the other a lot, for example, by listening in on phone calls, constantly asking about whereabouts, calling a person at work all day, checking a person's car mileage.
- One partner puts the other down, for example, by name-calling, constant criticism, public or private humiliation, or making the other partner feel crazy.
- One partner tries to control the other, for example, by telling the person not to see certain friends or family members, keeping the person away from school or work, making the person stay home when she wants to go out.
- One partner acts jealous or possessive and says it's a sign of love.
- One partner destroys or threatens to destroy the other's belongings.
- One partner threatens to hurt the other, or friends, family members, or pets.
- One partner touches the other in a way or ways that hurt or scare the other partner.
- One partner makes the other have sex in ways or at times that are uncomfortable.
- One partner blames the other one and other people for everything, and gets angry in a way that scares the other partner or observers.
- One partner says that the concerns of the other about the relationship are not real or not important.
If someone is caught up in domestic violence, help is available. Listen to other messages on this Information Line for specific things you can do and for information on community and other agencies who can help.
Chemical dependency and domestic violence are two separate problems. Drinking and drug use do not cause battering. Battering does not cause addiction. Although no causal link between the two problems can be established, both problems often co-exist within the framework of an abusive relationship. When this happens, both the severity of injuries and lethality rates may increase, making safety and sobriety of paramount concern. If you are in an abusive relationship and concerned about your own or another person's alcohol or other drug use, you can receive information and referrals 24 hours a day by calling the Alcohol Drug Help Line. The number in the Seattle area is (206)722-3700 or for all Washington State residents, 1-800-562-1240.
Remember, anyone can be in a violent relationship.
Domestic violence is a serious crime. It is against the law in Washington to hit, hurt, or seriously threaten with violence a family or household member.
RCW, Section 10.31.100 requires a police officer to make an arrest if the officer has probable cause to believe an assault occurred within the preceding 4 hours and the assault was committed by a spouse, former spouse, adult person related by blood or marriage, persons who have a child in common, adult persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, persons 16 years of age or older who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past and who have or have had a dating relationship, persons 16 years of age or older with whom a respondent 16 years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship, and persons that have a legal or biological parent-child relationship.
An assault includes such things as slapping, pushing, shoving, pinching, throwing down, pulling hair, and other violent actions that are unwanted and unpermitted, or any physical action, as well as threats, which are intended to cause the victim to reasonably fear imminent serious bodily injury or death.
In Washington State, police officers are required to arrest the person who the officer believes is the primary aggressor and may look at the history of domestic violence between the parties, the comparative extent of injuries, or the fear of physical injury to determine who the primary aggressor has been. An officer has the option to make the arrest or issue a citation if the incident did not occur within the 4-hour mandatory arrest period.
If the abuser is charged with or arrested for a crime, a criminal "No Contact Order" may be issued to prevent the abuser from having any contact whatsoever with the victim.
A police officer shall also arrest a person who, with knowledge of a court order, has violated the terms of the order. If there is an assault or reckless endangerment that is in violation of an "Order for Protection" or a "No Contact Order," the abuser may be subject to felony criminal charges.
Domestic violence includes, but is not limited to the following crimes when committed by one family or household member against another: reckless endangerment, coercion, harassment, malicious mischief, stalking, kidnaping, criminal trespass, rape, burglary, or unlawful imprisonment.
RCW, Section 26.50 provides a civil remedy for domestic violence. A victim of domestic violence may fill out a Petition for an "Order for Protection" and file it with the court. The civil Order for Protection may be sought without police intervention. Violation of the Order for Protection may subject the abuser to arrest and possible felony charges if a subsequent assault or reckless endangerment is committed.
Coordinated response to domestic violence in the King County area
Law, safety, and justice agencies and community agencies within King County have collaborated to develop a coordinated response to domestic violence and to tell the community that domestic violence is not acceptable in King County.
A coordinated response uses the expertise of police, prosecuting attorney, shelter providers, probation officers, Judges, court personnel, court advocates, community advocates (including those providing individualized services for special populations), and batterer treatment providers. Improved communication between the legal system, victims, and batterer treatment programs creates an atmosphere and a community in which batterers are less able to manipulate the system and escape the consequences for their abusive behavior.
A coordinated response also offers victims and their children a wider selection of options, so they can choose services that meet their individual needs for legal and for community support services.
The key to a coordinated response is continuous, ongoing training of all agency personnel. This ensures appropriate, consistent responses that hold batterers accountable for their abusive behavior and protect the victims and their children from further violence.
There are two types of programs that train volunteers to provide services to persons affected by domestic violence. First, court-based volunteer programs help victims who are using the legal system. Second, community-based volunteer programs help with shelter and advocacy services in the community.
For information on court-based volunteer legal advocacy programs, call the Seattle City Attorney's Office at (206) 684-7741 or the King County District Court volunteer advocate program at (206) 296-9669.
Community-based volunteers provide a broader array of volunteer services. This is because domestic violence shelters and community advocacy programs in King County are all non-profit organizations in constant need of financial, volunteer, and other contributions. If you have time, money, household items, or special skills you can donate to your local domestic violence program, please call them. Here we list several such agencies which would be glad to get your call during normal business hours:
To help in Seattle, call:
- Abused Deaf Women's Advocacy Services at (206) 726-0093 (TDD only) WA Relay Service 1-800-833-6384
- Advocates for Abused and Battered Lesbians at (206) 547-8191
- Catherine Booth House at (206) 324-4943
- Consejo Counseling and Referral Services at (206) 461-4880
- New Beginnings at (206) 522-9472
- Refugee Women's Alliance at (206) 721-0243
- YWCA African-American Family Network at (206) 461-8480
- Seattle Indian Health Board at (206) 324-9360
In South King County, call the Domestic Abuse Women's Network (DAWN) at (425) 656-4305.
In East King County, call Eastside Domestic Violence Program at (425)562-8840.