According to the Centers for Disease Control National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, one in five women will be raped at some point in their lives, while more than half of all women in Washington state have experienced sexual violence other than rape. In addition, rape and sexual assault are some of the most underreported crimes.
In order to protect victims of sexual assault, Washington state established sexual assault protection orders. Anyone subjected to unwanted sexual contact who can show a reasonable fear of future harm may petition the court for a sexual assault protection order.
Under current law, victims of sexual assault can only be granted a protection order for up to two years. Although an order can be renewed, this means every two years sexual assault victims must petition the court, relive their trauma and confront their assailants.
House Bill 1384 will remove the limitation on the length of a sexual assault protection order. Although it is not required, the courts will be able to issue permanent sexual assault protection orders. In cases where the order is not permanent, the courts will grant a renewal of the order unless the perpetrator can provide evidence he is no longer a threat to the victim.
“This legislation will help provide relief for victims,” said Goodman. “Victims of sexual assault already experience so much trauma, we shouldn’t make them endure more just so they can feel safer.”
House Bill 1384 now goes to the Senate for further consideration.