Grant to help establish new domestic violence court in Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. — A new, specialized court will address domestic violence in Spokane. 

The new court is made possible by a $550,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. The YWCA, Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition and Spokane Superior Court will implement it. 

“We want to help people get what they need to find healing and safety,” said Annie Murphey, Executive Director of the SRDVC.

Spokane has the highest rate of domestic violence in the state of Washington, and the grant will help the court with alternative judicial processing in these cases. 

According to the CDC, about one in five women report having experienced severe physical violence from a partner. This number may not tell the whole story as many victims do not come forward.

Murphey said the new program will fit into a model of therapeutic court. Rather than having several judges, one will be dedicated to domestic violence court. It will focus on felony cases.

Trained legal advocates will provide trauma-informed support to victims. 

“Making sure there is victim safety inside of the process with the ultimate goal of holding offenders accountable for domestic violence,” Murphey said.

The specifics are still in the works, but Murphey said they will require the whole family to participate to be apart of domestic violence court. Advocates will not only support the victims and their families, but the people accused of the crime.

“This is an opportunity for that person to get engaged in treatment, to be held accountable, to see a judge weekly,” she explained.

Paying for treatment is typically a barrier and those seeking it pay out of their own pocket. With this grant, that will not be the case.

“This is a huge win for our community,” Murphey said. “Ultimately that we reduce recidivism. We would love to see our rates of DV go down and we feel that this is a step in the right direction to making that happen.”

In support of the new DV court, SRDVC will provide a court coordinator who prepares and delivers additional information for judges including input from victims, lethality assessment findings, firearm purchases and initial assessment results. They will also work with grant and community partners to identify additional services and resources needed for family members in the household, including children and offenders. 

The grant partnership will also help YWCA Spokane provide legal advocacy support that will offer victims safety planning services. It will also aid in providing them resources to counseling, therapy, shelter and housing. 

“Our team at YWCA Spokane is excited to partner with the SRDVC and the Spokane Superior Court to bring this critical model of support to Spokane,” said Jeanette Hauck, CEO of YWCA Spokane. “It facilitates a holistic approach to addressing a prevalent issue in our community.” 

RELATED: Are you a domestic violence victim? Here are some resources available in Spokane County

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READ: ‘That needs to change’: Community raises over $4,000 to fight domestic violence 

List of domestic violence resources