Domestic violence is an unfortunate reality for many people. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), over 41 percent of women and nearly 32 percent of men in Washington state will experience physical violence, rape, or stalking at the hands of an intimate partner at some point in their lifetimes. Romantic relationships are inherently complex, and breakups or separations can trigger physical violence, threats, or other acts of intimidation between spouses and partners. If a dating partner, spouse, roommate, ex, or close relative is subjecting you to abuse, harassment, or intimidation, it’s essential to recognize your options for obtaining legal protections designed to ensure your safety. Washington state allows victims of domestic violence to file a petition for a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) against their abusers. In addition to protecting your physical safety, a DVPO can benefit you in several meaningful ways. Let’s take a look at some of the immediate and long-term benefits of obtaining a DVPO in Washington.
A Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) is a form of civil order that compels the respondent to cease all specified actions and behaviors toward the petitioner. Washington state law defines domestic violence as “physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault; nonconsensual sexual conduct or nonconsensual sexual penetration; coercive control; unlawful harassment; or stalking of one intimate partner by another intimate partner.” Protection orders will specify the behaviors that the respondent is prohibited from performing, such as contacting the victim (i.e., calling, texting, emailing, or commenting on social media posts), entering their residence, showing up at their place of employment, or coming within a certain physical distance of the victim. The DVPO may also compel the respondent into mandatory counseling or treatment sessions and/or to surrender their firearms or dangerous weapons. Violating the terms of the DVPO will lead to penalties, including potential fines or jail time.
Many people assume that DVPOs only apply to spouses or domestic partners. However, Washington laws allow several types of individuals to seek this civil protection order. Intimate partners (i.e., spouses, former spouses, co-parents, and dating partners), same-sex partners, and family household members (i.e., those related by blood, marriage, domestic partnership, or adoption) may all pursue a DVPO. You may also pursue a protection order on behalf of a minor or vulnerable adult. Additionally, it’s helpful to understand that you may petition for a civil protection order regardless of “whether or not there is a pending lawsuit, complaint, petition, or other action between the parties.” Although you are not required to hire an attorney to assist you with the DVPO filing process, doing so is highly recommended to ensure that you secure the legal protections you need to feel safe again.
Once the court has approved your request for a DVPO, you can breathe easier again with the knowledge that your abuser is legally prohibited from contacting or following you. In recent years, survivor advocacy groups have encouraged lawmakers to streamline the petition process for victims. As of 2022, those seeking a civil protection order can do so using one condensed form rather than spend precious time and energy sorting through various forms to determine which order best suits their needs. Here are some of the additional advantages and positive outcomes associated with a successful DVPO petition.
The most obvious benefit of a DVPO is trusting that the respondent is legally prohibited from subjecting you to further harm. Once the court approves the DVPO request, the respondent must cease all contact with you or risk consequences (and even criminal penalties). Many people report feeling a tremendous sense of relief once the DVPO is implemented, as they can feel safe in their homes, at work, and in public once more. Even if your abuser texts you or comments on your social media post, you can report this violation immediately to enforce the DVPO terms.
A DVPO can protect both you and your children from harm at the hands of the abuser. Securing a DVPO can reassure you that your children will remain protected from acts of violence or continued harassment. For many parents, knowing that their children are no longer in harm’s way can bring substantial relief and reassurance. You and your children can enjoy the freedom and security you need to feel hopeful about the future once more.
Domestic violence does not only refer to physical harm. If your abuser subjected you to verbal harassment, emotional manipulation, or other forms of coercive control, you likely felt as if you had little to no say over your ability to live your life. With a DVPO in place, you can start to regain control of your life by making your own decisions and pursuing activities that benefit you. Working with a compassionate and dedicated Seattle attorney is the best way to help you move forward into a brighter and more stable future.
Reach out to the Hemmat Law Group today at (206) 682-5200 to speak with a caring and dedicated Seattle family law attorney.
The Hemmat Law Group (HLG) was founded in 1994 by Steven Amir Hemmat, a former DOJ Trial Attorney. We specialize in family law, supporting victims of the legal system.
Hemmat Law Group help good people in bad situations.
Our lawyers provide expert legal advice connected to protection orders, including in cases of domestic violence, stalking and neighbor disputes. Contact us today.