July 10, 2018

DV Town Hall – Additional Questions and Answers

This past May, YWCA Spokane partnered with local agencies and law enforcement to hold a  Domestic Violence (DV) Town Hall that helped community members understand family violence and its critical impact in our community.

You can read more about the Domestic Violence End The Silence Town Hall here. The event raised many questions and concerns that our panelists did not have time to address. In partnership with the Spokane Police Department, below is a response to the additional questions.

How do I get a protection order against my abuser if I am currently in the Address Confidentiality Program?

There are several types of orders that do not require that you reveal your address. Each situation is handled on a case by case basis due to unique circumstances that impact available options. Our recommendation would be to call our YWCA Spokane Legal Advocates at 509-477-3656 to better understand your options and to receive assistance with filing.

What assurances do we have that when an undocumented survivor of domestic violence who is currently living in the US, won’t be detained on the basis of immigration status when contacting the police?

As of June 7, 2018, House Bill 1022 provides safety for undocumented victims and survivors of domestic violence when reporting a domestic violence situation to authorities. House Bill 1022 also improves the U and T visa certification process. For more information visit WSCADV’s article on Legislative Victories.

Additional valuable information about abuse and immigrants can be found at the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

What can we do as a community to make undocumented survivors of domestic violence feel safe?

YWCA Spokane is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. YWCA’s confidential services for survivors of domestic violence are offered regardless of immigration status.  If you or someone you know is feeling unsafe, please consider calling our 24hr helpline at 509-326-2255. Learn additional ways to access services and support.

YWCA’s confidential Advocates provide community education and trainings, access to meaningful resources, and materials you can share within your community, church, club, or place of work that support awareness about domestic violence and available services. Contact our Community Education and Outreach Coordinator at outreach@ywcaspokane.org to learn more.

Spokane has identified family violence as one if the top priorities. We will make sure to share additional ways we can come together as a community to help end the silence that surrounds domestic violence. Consider signing up for YWCA Spokane’s eNews updates regarding upcoming ways that you can engage in this critical work and support our mission.


What services are available for survivors who’s partners are in a position of power within the community they reside, ie. law enforcement, military, veterans, etc.?

Communication between a survivor and a YWCA Spokane Domestic Violence Advocate is considered Privileged Communications as stated in RCW 5.60.060 subsection 8: “A domestic violence advocate may not, without the consent of the victim, be examined as to any communication between the victim and the domestic violence advocate.”  This means that YWCA Spokane Domestic Violence Advocates cannot legally release any information regarding access to or communication about your engagement with our domestic violence related service at YWCA Spokane.  This also protects your information if an advocates is subpoenaed.

Regarding concerns with a partner in the military. Each branch of the military has specific procedures in place for reporting and working with domestic violence. Our advocates can help you navigate these systems.  

Safety planning, safe temporary shelter, legal advocacy, housing advocacy, counseling advocacy, and mental health services are available free to survivors of domestic violence at YWCA Spokane. Learn more at ywcaspokane.org or call our 24hr helpline at 509-326-2255.

Do abusers stop abusing their victims without getting intense rehabilitation? Can they stop on their own?

At YWCA Spokane, we believe anyone is capable of change. However we also believe, for an abuser to change, it is important that they take responsibility and show accountability.  If they have admitted violence, it’s often a matter of finding the right way to treat the problem. If childhood trauma is an issue, for example, that could mean going to therapy to address the trauma.

How can victims of domestic violence be protected when they feel unsafe (ex: blackmail, their family and/or friends are threatened, lack financial resources, guns in the home, history of physical violence, etc..)?

Each domestic violence victim’s pathway to safety is as unique as their situation. Meeting with a YWCA Spokane Domestic Violence Advocate to talk about planning for your safety can be one effective way to discuss available options. For more information consider calling our 24hr helpline at 509-326-2255 to speak with a confidential advocate. More information is also available at ywcaspokane.org.

Why do we not have a domestic violence registry?  Where does the YWCA Spokane stand regarding the implementation of a domestic violence registry?

Domestic violence relationships are based on an imbalance of power and control. There are significant concerns about possible unintended and harmful consequences to the victim.

YWCA Spokane supports the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s stance regarding the implementation of a domestic violence registry, which references and aligns with concerns provided by techsafety.org.

Why do we not bring back D.A.R.E. program and educate our children?

While we are unable to speak to issues concerning project DARE, which was a substance abuse program, YWCA Spokane offers child advocacy and child mental health services as well as parent-child mental health services which help to address issues of intergenerational violence as well as childhood trauma, understanding domestic violence, and more.  

To learn more about YWCA’s services for children and youth visit ywcaspokane.org.

With an estimated 14,000 domestic violence calls each year, approximately how many victims do you think don’t call?

Because of the very personal nature of domestic violence, we are unable to identify victims who do not seek services or who are not involved in a legal matter.

Reducing family trauma and violence has been identified as Spokane’s top concern.  In the coming year, the Spokane Regional Health District will be working on data and public education projects around this issue. They will be taking a deeper look at the stats and try to create a more substantial, reliable overall picture of the problem. (As reported by Shawn Vestal with the Spokesman-Review)

If you have not already registered for YWCA Spokane’s eNews updates, consider signing up today and receive updates about how Spokane’s is working to end the silence with domestic violence.

How do we encourage couple’s counselors from clinics and local churches as well as other community members to not remain a “neutral party” when domestic violence is occurring in a relationship?

Any time you encounter someone providing support, whether it is spiritual, mental health, or peer support, who you feel could benefit from having a deeper understanding of the issues and complexities of domestic violence, please consider referring them to YWCA Spokane’s Community Educator and Outreach Coordinator at 509-789-9290 or email outreach@ywcaspokane.org.

How do we encourage pastors and counselors at churches to adopt a modern stance on domestic violence advocacy?

YWCA Spokane provided free domestic violence training opportunities to religious organizations as well as to other non-faith based organizations and groups. To learn more contact YWCA Spokane’s Community Educator and Outreach Coordinator at 509-789-9290 or email outreach@ywcaspokane.org.

An additional community resource specifically directed at the faith based community is ARMS (Abuse Recovery Ministry & Services). ARMS is a faith-based, local organization focused on bringing healing and transformation, from a faith perspective, to those impacted by domestic violence and controlling relationships.  

Why doesn’t the victim just leave?

Leaving is often the most dangerous time for a victim of abuse because abuse is about power and control. When a victim leaves, they are taking control and threatening the abusive partner’s power which could cause the abusive partner to retaliate in abusive ways.

Leaving can be much more complicated then it seems. To learn more visit The Domestic Violence Hotline website.

What are the guidelines that determine whether an abuser is charged?

Officers in the field are given descriptions of the current laws.  In instances where the officer finds that he has probable cause (a reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred) to find that a violation of the law has occurred, they will charge the person with a crime.  Once that occurs, the ticket is filed with the court and the defendant is given a court date.  Washington has a mandatory arrest policy so, generally, the defendant is arrested, taken to jail and the ticket is then filed with the court prompting a court appearance the next day (1st appearance).  At that first hearing, conditions of release are issued.  This could include a bond, a No Contact Order, alcohol/drug testing, or other conditions.

Why does law enforcement have a rule that someone has to be arrested?

For law enforcement to make an arrest, there has to be probable cause that a crime was committed.  Something more than just a statement.  Visible injuries, broken items, an independent witness.

Law enforcement does not have a rule that someone has to be arrested.  Law enforcement’s first priority is to stabilize the scene.  The second task is to determine if a crime has been committed.  If the officer does not have probable cause to determine a crime has been committed, no arrest will be made. If the officer can develop probable cause that a crime was committed, the suspect who committed the crime, and the crime falls under the domestic violence laws, there will usually be an arrest.

There are multiple weapons surrender forms domestic violence victims are required to fill out when a protection order is issued, but there does not seem to be adequate follow up by law enforcement. When the accused is served a protection order, they are able to tell the officer they don’t have any guns. How can this process be improved?  

The Spokane Police Department has indicated that this is a high priority. However, currently the department does not have adequate staffing to keep up with the volume of orders issued. They are currently working with YWCA Spokane and other members of the Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Team to garner the resources and support for a regional domestic violence firearms unit similar to the recently formed Regional Domestic Violence Firearms Enforcement Unit. They are working on ways to improve their response and process.  

Most non-emergent crimes, except those domestic violence related, are able to be reported to crime check.  It is taxing on law enforcement as well as stressful for the survivor to report every non-emergent crime in person to law enforcement, such as repeat violations of No Contact Orders. Is it possible to consider providing victims with the ability to report a No Contact Order and/or other non-emergent domestic violent related crimes online?

Having an officer respond to a violation of a No Contact Order is the best way to gather evidence for prosecution.  NCO violations, even repeated ones, can be dangerous and escalate.  The Spokane Police Department want officers to evaluate the scene, document the facts and effect an arrest if probable cause exists.

If you would like to talk with a YWCA Spokane Legal Advocate please consider calling 509-477-3656.

If you have additional questions regarding domestic violence, please submit your question through our online form or call our 24hr helpline at 509-326-52255.

By: Olivia Moorer

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