Agencies emphasize local support available for domestic violence survivors

Spokane County has the highest rate of domestic violence in Washington.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Local agencies are once again emphasizing the resources available to help people in abusive relationships as police investigate the murder of a Spokane mother.

Yasir Darraji is accused of lighting his ex wife on fire. She was found dead inside a burning car in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Spokane at the end of January.

Ibtihal Darraji’s death is the latest in a string of violence in Eastern Washington recently. In December, police found 24-year-old Alianna Johnson shot to death. Her boyfriend and the father of her child, Joshua Forrester, was arrested and charged with the murder.

Then in January, police found a woman tied up and beaten at a South Hill home. She used Alexa to call for help once her boyfriend left the home. The woman told authorities her boyfriend had abused her.

Those are just three examples among thousands that happen each year in Spokane County, which has the highest rate of domestic violence in Washington. The problem is so serious, a group of local agencies, leaders and groups have formed a coalition to address the issue.

The Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition created a powerful documentary late last year, which aired on nearly all local news stations, including 4 News Now. In it, a woman opened up about the terror and pain she experienced at the hands of someone she once trusted.

It’s a story line many other women and men in Spokane know all too well.

There are an estimated 13.7 domestic violence incidents per 1,000 people in Spokane County. That’s more than double the state average, according to 2017 data from the Department of Social and Health Services.

Lutheran Community Services District Director Erin Williams Heuter has heard the stories behind those statistics. She’s also on the leadership committee for the county coalition. Williams Heuter explained that this abuse does not discriminate based on race, class or background.

“When we look at domestic violence, we see exactly the same patterns of behavior in every community about power and control,” Williams Hueter said.

Abuse can take many forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, economical and psychological. Both Lutheran Community Services and YWCA are leaders in providing help to those who are experiencing this kind of trauma and their families.

Those organizations are a small part of a larger effort between nonprofits, hospitals, law enforcement, and other agencies to disrupt the patterns of abuse in Spokane County. The End the Violence documentary was just the start of their work.

“Next, we will be working on how do we move forward on our systems? How do we make the systems friendly to victims when they come forward? How do we hold people accountable when they’re arrested for domestic violence?” Williams Heuter said.

Part of the responsibility falls on community members. Williams Heuter said one of the most powerful ways to help someone is to listen to them when they come to you. It’s important to take time to hear them out before it’s too late.

“It’s really difficult to hear about. It is really difficult to wade through life knowing someone went through something so terrible. That’s why it is important to be talking about violence in a preventative way and not waiting for it to be on the news,” Williams Heuter said.graphic


**If you are in immediate danger, call 911**

YWCA 24/7 Hotline: 509-326-CALL (2255) or email

Lutheran Community Services 24/7 Hotline:  509-624-7273 (can text that number Monday-Thursday 8:00am-5:00pm, Friday 8:30am-3:00pm)

Safe Passage 24/7 Hotline: 208-664-9303

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