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Washington Domestic Abuse Laws and How to Get Help for Domestic Abuse

According to Washington state law, domestic abuse is a criminal act that is committed by a household or family member against another person belonging to the family. Domestic violence consists of abusive behaviors such as physical violence, sexual assault, emotional abuse, neglect, and economic control.

Examples of some crimes that are associated with domestic abuse:

  • Assault
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Coercion
  • Criminal trespass
  • Kidnapping
  • Property damage
  • Mess with the reporting of domestic abuse
  • Rape
  • Burglary
  • Stalking
  • Violation of the court’s protection order
  • False imprisonment

Domestic abuse law in Washington requires the police officer concerned to immediately make an arrest, provided the officer has sufficient evidence to believe that abuse has taken place within the past 4 hours. In cases where family members have assaulted or abused each other, the officer will be required to arrest the primary domestic abuser or aggressor.

Domestic Abuse Laws

Domestic abuse law in Washington: Protection available for the victims

Victims of domestic abuse can file charges against the abuser for which quick action is assured by the concerned agencies. However, it is to be noted that once charges are filed, the victim cannot drop the charges.


  • Address Confidentiality Program: Victims can maintain their address confidentiality by seeking a substitute address. Public agencies can use this address for communication.
  • Civil Lawsuit: The domestic abuse victim can file a civil lawsuit in order to recover expenses and losses.
  • Protective orders: The victim can also apply for domestic abuse protection orders, civil anti-harassment and no-contact orders. Victims will not have to look for a lawyer in order to get a protection order. A temporary order is issued by the court if the facts presented by the victim can prove the charges against the domestic abuser.
  • Spousal support or custody/child orders: These can be altered in order to avoid further incidents of violence between spouses/children.

This makes it clear that Washington offers both criminal and civil protection to domestic abuse victims.

If the charges are filed in the state of Washington, the victim will be required to attend the court to testify. The court also offers to provide the victim with a lawyer to help with the case.

Help for domestic abuse in Washington

There are over 70 organizations in and around Washington that are offering help to the victims of domestic abuse and violence. Some of them are as follows:

  • Child and Adolescent Protection Center: This organization provides counseling services, children’s services, and support services. Ph: 202-476-6718
  • Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project: Victims of domestic abuse can get in touch with this organization for emergency services and financial and legal assistance services. Ph:202-994-8189
  • Survivors and Advocates for Empowerment: This emergency shelter provides financial and legal assistance, housing and support services, emergency services and children’s services. Ph:202-506-2901
Washigton Domestic Abuse Laws

Washington domestic abuse statistics

  • Washington is constantly striving to gather more resources to serve the victims of domestic abuse. In 2014, a domestic violence program in the state served 1930 survivors; over 500 could not be attended to due to the shortage of resources.
  • In 2014, intimate partners in Washington accounted for 41 percent of abductions. Intimate partners were also responsible for over 20% of serious assaults and around 32% minor assaults.
  • According to statistics, 28% of women in Washington face stalking during their lifetime.
  • 9% of domestic abuse femicides in Washington are said to be committed with the guns.
  • Hotlines in Washington receive around 21,000 calls on a typical day.
  • Intimate partner abuse accounts for over 15 percent of violent crimes.
  • Homicide risk is observed to increase by 500% if a family involved in domestic violence owns a gun.
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