What Is Domestic Violence?
We call it domestic violence when there is a controlling pattern of intimidation, threat and abuse that escalates from individual, isolated acts into a series of multiple tactics and repeated events. Domestic violence is: (a) Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, between family or household members; (b) sexual assault of one family or household member by another; or (c) stalking of one family or household member by another family or household member.
Physical violence includes kicking, punching, shoving, slapping, or pushing in any way that hurts another person. Sexual violence includes any unwanted touching or fondling and forced or pressured sex at any time.
Even the threat of violence can result in someone feeling afraid and controlled. A raised fist, punching walls, kicking in doors, keeping someone awake all night, threatening to take children, hurting pets, destroying personal things, driving recklessly, isolating family members, or controlling resources like food, money, vehicles, credit or time can cause someone to feel fearful and threatened. Abusers often create complex rules that their partners and children must follow, and just as often, they change the rules.
People who are suffering in battering relationships come from every part of life. One’s level of education, financial security, race or ethnic group, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, immigration status, religion, or marital status does not protect any of us from experiencing domestic violence. It occurs in relationships where the partners are married, never married, dating, living together, separated or divorced. It happens when there are children in the family, and when there aren't any children. Domestic violence occurs when people have been together a long time, or just a short time. All of these circumstances can make it harder for a victim to get help or get out of the situation.
Washington State Law
Definition of Domestic Violence
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings given them:
(1) "Domestic violence" means: (a) Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, between family or household members; (b) sexual assault of one family or household member by another; or (c) stalking as defined in RCW 9A.46.110 of one family or household member by another family or household member.
(2) "Family or household members" means spouses, domestic partners, former spouses, former domestic partners, persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time, adult persons related by blood or marriage, adult persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, persons sixteen 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 sixteen years of age or older with whom a person sixteen years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship, and persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren.
(3) "Dating relationship" means a social relationship of a romantic nature. Factors that the court may consider in making this determination include: (a) The length of time the relationship has existed; (b) the nature of the relationship; and (c) the frequency of interaction between the parties.
(4) "Court" includes the superior, district, and municipal courts of the state of Washington.
(5) "Judicial day" does not include Saturdays, Sundays, or legal holidays.
(6) "Electronic monitoring" means a program in which a person's presence at a particular location is monitored from a remote location by use of electronic equipment.
(7) "Essential personal effects" means those items necessary for a person's immediate health, welfare, and livelihood. "Essential personal effects" includes but is not limited to clothing, cribs, bedding, documents, medications, and personal hygiene items.