Domestic Violence Resources


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Domestic violence is often mistaken as someone losing their temper or mutual fighting in a relationship. Domestic violence is NOT about getting angry or arguing – but it IS about power and control. It is a pattern of harmful behavior by one person intended to control another person within a romantic, intimate or family/household member relationship. People who experience domestic violence can be married or not married; heterosexual, LGBQT; living together, separated or dating; or relatives. Men, women and children of all ages, races and classes can be victims. Without intervention, domestic violence can get worse, and could end in death.

Domestic violence can take many forms, some of which are illegal. It can happen all the time or once in a while. Some forms of domestic violence are:

Emotional or Verbal. Examples of emotional abuse can include insults, blaming, put downs, mind games and threats. Emotional abuse can be unpredictable, affect self-esteem, and make you doubt your own sense of reality.

Controlling/Intimidating. Examples include isolating you from family and friends; controlling your money; keeping you from getting a job or going to school; controlling or monitoring what you do and where you go; or destroying your property.

Physical abuse is any hurtful, intimidating or offensive touching or contact. It can involve grabbing, pushing, shoving or hitting, and could escalate to more serious injuries or death.

Sexual abuse can involve degrading comments; unwanted touching; or harmful, forced sex.

In Washington State, it is illegal for your partner to hurt you physically, force you to have sex, threaten to hurt or kill you or your children, or destroy your property.

How Do I Know It Is Abuse?

The following are some signs of abuse to be aware of in a relationship. Recognizing the signs could help you stay safe.

Someone who is abusive may:

  • Act jealous or possessive and say it is out of love.
  • Blame you for their behavior, saying "you're making me do this to you."
  • Destroy or threaten to destroy your things.
  • Threaten to hurt you, themselves, your family members, your friends, or your pets.
  • Touch you in a way that hurts or scares you, or in any way that you do not want to be touched.
  • Force sex or sexual acts in ways or at times that are not comfortable for you. Threaten to report you to immigration or to destroy your papers.
  • Get angry unpredictably or in a way that scares you.
    Blame you, others, alcohol, stress, depression, etc., for their violent behavior.
  • Belittle or make fun of your concerns and fears about your relationship.
  • Threaten to "out" you to family, friends or work.
  • Act differently in public than in private.
  • Isolate you by making it difficult or impossible to be with your family or friends.
  • Threaten to take your children and claim you won't see them again.
  • Make promises to change but does not follow through.

Some behaviors have been identified as especially dangerous:

  • Threatening to kill you or themselves, especially if the abuser has access to weapons.
  • Strangling, choking
  • Stalking
  • Controlling most or all of your activities

Does Domestic Violence Impact My Children?

Children who live with violence in their homes are affected, even if they do not see it (e.g., they are in bed or in another room) or appear to be just fine. Each child may react differently to the violence at home. Here are some common reactions:

Emotional: Children often feel guilty for not being able to stop the violence. They may be confused by their feelings for each parent. They may be scared, anxious, nervous, embarrassed, angry, depressed or even feel suicidal about what is happening.

Physical: Children may experience stomach aches, headaches, or other symptoms as a result of emotional stress.

Behavioral: Some children may act out aggressively, imitate what they see and hear, have trouble sleeping, or wet the bed. Others may become withdrawn or try to take care of the family. Many children get into fights at school, have trouble concentrating, get poor grades, abuse drugs and alcohol, or run away.

While they are at higher risk, not all children who witness domestic violence develop long-term problems, or grow up to be abusive or abused. Counseling and support services can help children and are available through community agencies (see the Resources section at the end of this Guide).

“You can help your child by talking to them about what is happening and listening to them.”

You can help your child by talking to them about what is happening and listening to them. Avoiding the discussion or pretending that the violence didn't happen could make your child feel even more scared and confused. It is important to let them know that the violence is not okay and not their fault. Let them know you love them and that you know this is scary for them. Assure them that you are ready to talk more about it if they want to. Be sure to include them in your safety planning.

What Can I Do To Be Safe?

Planning for your safety and your children's safety is critical. It may be helpful to discuss a safety plan with a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate. Advocates are available for ongoing support and help at community-based agencies (see "Support Services for Victims in the Resources section of this Guide) and in many law enforcement and prosecution agencies. A safety plan may include the following:

  • Planning Ahead
-Recognize the signs of abuse. Develop a plan with your children. Teach them how to call

-Have a safe place to go where the abuser can't find you. Talk to an advocate at a community agency (see "Support Services for Domestic Violence Victims" on page 17).

-Make copies of important papers and hide them. 911.

-Have important phone numbers available. - Pack and hide important items in an overnight bag for you and your children (i.e., clothes, papers, medication). Put aside money and spare keys.

-Consider getting a Domestic Violence Protection Order.

-Use a safer computer that can't be monitored by the abuser.
  • During an Incident
-Call for help (9-1-1)! When calling from a cell phone, say your location first.

-Get out if you can.

-Bring important items listed above.
  • If You Can't Leave the Situation

    -Call for help (9-1-1)!

    -Avoid the kitchen, bathroom, and garage.

    -Avoid rooms with only one exit.

  • In Your House

    -Change locks, secure doors and windows, change passwords on accounts.

    -Arrange to have someone stay with you. Change your phone number.

    -Notify trusted friends, family and neighbors.

  • At the Workplace, School, and Public Places

    -Inform your work, daycare, school, trusted family, friends and neighbors. Give them copies of Protection/No Contact Orders.

    -Change your daily routine.

    -Plan ahead for unexpected contact with the abuser

Now That the Police Have Responded... What Happens Next?

If the responding police officer believes a crime was committed, the officer will give a copy of the police report to the City or County Prosecutor for review. The prosecutor will decide whether to file criminal charges. As a victim of domestic violence, you can ask the City or County Prosecuting Attorney to file a criminal complaint (see RCW 10.99.030(7)).
The State of Washington has a mandatory arrest law related to domestic violence incidents that outlines when the police must make an arrest. If arrested, the abuser is usually held without bail until the first court appearance (usually 24-48 hours). You can give input at any hearing where bail or release is being considered.

Who might contact me?

Domestic Violence Victim Advocate in the Criminal Justice System

In the criminal justice system the Domestic Violence Victim Advocate is a professional who works within a prosecutor's office or police department to support and inform you through criminal proceedings. The advocate can provide information to you about your case, domestic violence, and safety options, as well as referrals to community advocacy programs and other services. The advocate can also provide your input to the prosecutor regarding safety concerns, No Contact Orders and other issues. It is important to keep the advocate and the prosecutor informed of your current address and phone number so they can update you on what is happening with your case.


The police report may be given to a detective for review. The detective may want to follow up with you in order to complete the investigation. The detective may send the completed investigation to the prosecutor's office for review.


The prosecutor is the attorney for the City or County, and decides whether charges will be filed. The prosecutor considers all available evidence when deciding whether charges will be filed, and may need to talk to you before making a decision.
"If the officer decides not to arrest or to initiate a criminal proceeding by citation or otherwise, you have the right as a victim of domestic violence to initiate a criminal proceeding (see RCW 10.99.030(6)(a) and CrRLJ 2.1(5)(C) for more information).

Defense Attorney

The abuser has the right to be represented by an attorney. This person is called the defense attorney. The defense attorney might attempt contact you to discuss what happened. You have the right to have a prosecutor, advocate or a support person with you whenever a defense attorney or his/her investigator wishes to discuss the case with you. To request this, call your advocate or the prosecutor.

Will charges be filed?

The prosecutor may or may not file charges against the abuser. If the prosecutor does not file charges, you will be informed of this decision. While your input is important, only the prosecutor decides whether or not to file charges. If charges are not filed and you feel you need protection, you can file a petition for a Domestic Violence Protection Order if you choose (see pages 12-13).

If charges are filed...

Once charged with a crime, the abuser is then called the Defendant. After charges are filed, an Arraignment hearing is held. The Defendant is informed of the charges and enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. The Judge may decide to set bail (monetary amount), or allow the defendant to be released. While it is not required, you can attend the Arraignment hearing to ask the Judge to consider your opinion on bail. Your advocate can help you do this. If you have concerns about release, contact your advocate.

What is a No Contact Order?

If the abuser is arrested for or charged with a domestic violence-related crime, a No Contact Order may be issued to prohibit the abuser from contacting you. When issuing a No Contact Order, the Judge considers the input of the prosecutor and the victim, safety issues, and the Defendant's criminal history, as well as history of abuse. The judge may issue a No Contact Order whether or not you request one. Contact your advocate to discuss your wishes.

If a No Contact Order is issued, you will be sent a copy. If you are unsure whether a No Contact Order was issued, or you have not received your copy, please contact your advocate or the prosecutor.

A violation of the No Contact Order is a crime. It is the Defendant's responsibility to follow the No Contact Order. Even if you invite contact, the Defendant could be arrested and charged with additional crimes. To report a violation, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Will there be a trial?

After charges are filed, the defense attorney and prosecutor discuss whether to take the case to trial or to agree upon another way to resolve the case. The advocate or prosecutor can keep you informed of these discussions.

Many cases are resolved without a trial. If your case is set for trial, it may not occur right away. Keep in contact with your advocate and prosecutor during this time so they can update you on what may be happening. You may receive a subpoena, which is a legal document ordering attendance in court. It lists a name and telephone number you can call for more information about time and location. Failure to appear can result in legal action.

What happens if the defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty?

If the Defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty, the Defendant will be sentenced. You have the right to be present and to be heard at the sentencing hearing. Your wishes and concerns are important to the prosecutor and the Judge. Your advocate can help you with any statement you may want to make at the sentencing hearing about how the crime has impacted you and what you would like to see happen.

Some common sentencing options in domestic violence cases are: domestic violence batterer's intervention, probation, alcohol or drug counseling, restitution for medical expenses or damaged property, jail time, no possession of firearms, community service, parenting classes, fines and a No Contact Order.

What Can A Domestic Violence Protection Order Do?

As a Victim of Domestic Violence, you have the right to file a petition requesting a Domestic Violence Protection Order in any Municipal, District or Superior Court in the county in which you reside (see RCW 10.99.030 (7)). There does not have to be an arrest, police report or criminal charge to request a Domestic Violence Protection Order.

A Domestic Violence Protection Order can:

  • Prohibit the respondent, the abusive person, from harassing and/ or contacting the petitioner, the person seeking protection. The respondent may be ordered to have no contact with the petitioner including in person, by mail, by telephone, or through third parties.
  • Exclude the respondent from petitioner's residence (even if shared), school, business, or place of employment, or from coming to the school or daycare of minor children.
  • Award temporary custody of minor children to one parent, establish temporary visitation, and restrain one parent from interfering with custody.
  • Order the respondent to participate in treatment or counseling.
  • Prohibit the respondent from removing the children from the State.
  • Restrain the respondent from committing further acts of abuse.

Who Can Be Protected:

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • Persons having a child in common
  • Adult persons related by blood or marriage
  • Adult persons who presently reside or used to reside together
    Persons 16 years and older who have or have had a dating relationship
  • Persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship

Please note: A Domestic Violence Protection Order is not considered enforceable until it has been personally served on the respondent.

A Domestic Violence Protection Order cannot:

  • Order child support.
  • Order maintenance income
  • Assign property to either party
  • Establish permanent child custody or "ownership" of family home
  • Guarantee your safety. An Order for Protection works best if it is part of a comprehensive personal safety plan.

Process for Filing:

The forms you need to obtain a Domestic Violence Protection Order are available in any Municipal, District or Superior Court, or online at: or

A Protection Order Advocate can help you file a Temporary Order for Protection at the locations below. A Temporary Order is in place for 14 days, at which time the court holds a "full order hearing." The respondent (the abusive person) may respond to your allegations by appearing at the full order hearing. At this hearing, the court hears from you and the respondent, and decides whether to extend the order for a year, or longer in some cases. You must attend this full order hearing to continue the Domestic Violence Protection Order beyond the initial 14-day temporary period.

Protection Order Advocates are available to help you at the following courts:

King County Courthouse
  King County Maleng Regional Justice Center
Room C213
  Room 2B
516 Third Avenue
  401 Fourth Avenue N.
Seattle, WA 98104
  Kent, WA 98032

Quick Links

Revised Code of Washington Links

RCW 7.69.030
Rights of victims, survivors, and witnesses.

RCW 7.69A.030
Rights of child victims and witnesses.

RCW 59.18.575
Victim protection—Notice to landlord—Termination of rental agreement—Procedures. (Effective until July 1, 2022.)

RCW 10.99.030 (7)
Law enforcement officers—Training, powers, duties—Domestic violence reports.

RCW 49.76.030
Domestic violence leave—Victims and family members—Purpose.