Domestic Violence: An Overview

No one deserves to be abused. The laws of Washington State provide protection for people who have been abused and one of these laws is the Domestic Violence Protection Act.

In the following section, you will read information about how to get a domestic violence protection order. You may see terms that are unfamiliar to you, but there is a glossary of terms included at the end of this section to help with definitions. For now, there are three terms which you should know: "domestic violence," "family or household members," and "dating relationship."

Domestic Violence

Washington State law defines "domestic violence" as:

Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, including sexual assault, stalking, OR the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault.

This includes a wide variety of abusive behavior. Pushing, shoving, hitting, slapping, biting, choking or other conduct which causes harm or puts you in fear of being hurt are considered domestic violence if these actions occur between family or household members or people involved in a dating relationship. 

Family or Household Members

Under the domestic violence law, this includes:

    • spouses
    • former spouses
    • persons who have a child in common - whether or not they have been married or have lived together at any time
    • adult persons related by blood or marriage
    • adult persons residing together now or who have resided together in the past
    • persons 16 years of age or older who are residing together now or have resided together in the past
    • persons 16 years of age or older who have or had a dating relationship
    • persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including step parents and step children and grandparents and grandchildren

Dating Relationship

This means a social relationship of a romantic nature. The court will look at things like how long the relationship existed, the nature of the relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the parties.